It wouldn't take more than a weekend trip to the beach to convince you, but a new study is confirming what we (and every real estate listing on the East Coast) already know: living near water can reduce stress. It's not only a pleasing aesthetic location, but it also greatly improves wellbeing (even for city dwellers!). The report was published in the Health & Place journal, and will absolutely remind you why human beings were meant to live near nature.
It's common knowledge that spending time in "green" and "blue" spaces is important (as in, anywhere nature abounds), but recently, there's been a cultural shift toward taking a more holistic, back-to-our-roots approach to lifestyle. Between organic foods and a rekindled interest in how nature (and Eastern practices like yoga, which have become highly Westernized in recent history) can help us live better.
The study showed that living near many trees or vegetation would actually extend a woman's lifespan, and the reasons are likely something along the lines of having a place to exercise, create opportunities to socialize, and reduce stress. The study found that the same was true of "blue" spaces (major bodies of water). They found that these kinds of spaces contribute tremendously to stress reduction, which we already know is a major component of overall wellbeing. The study evaluated the capital city of Wellington, New Zealand, and found that with nearly 500,000 citizens, the area is home to 10.6 percent of the country's population. By pulling information from national databases, mapping out forested areas, parks and coastlines that are visible to residents and then looking at the 2011/2012 New Zealand Health Survey, they were able to evaluate citizens' health, lifestyle, doctors visits, socioeconomic status, chronic medical issues, and mental wellbeing.
Now, here's where it gets interesting: "Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress," Michigan State University health geographer Amber L. Pearson said in a press statement. "However, we did not find that with green space." After controlling variables like sex, wealth, and age, they were able to find that water was generally associated with better mental health for just about everyone.
So while we now know that it's better for your mental health to be around water (or trees, though water seems to be predominantly more impactful) we also realize that it's not always the most practical or viable option. Here are a few other things that make for a life-well-lived (y'know, if you're looking to improve your station in this world in any way).
Living On A Tree Lined Block Makes You Feel Younger
Studies show that people who live around natural landscapes are more likely to thrive physically and mentally (as well as heal faster, and more commonly than patients who did not have trees or the like in sight).
Just Getting Outside For A Little Bit Each Day Can Drastically Improve Your Mood
Sometimes it's not even a matter of where you live, but whether or not you truly take advantage of whatever nature is around you. As we know, little things like getting enough sleep, nurturing your relationships, and getting outside — even for as little as 20 minutes — is enough make a big impact.
When You Live In A City, Light Pollution Ensures You Sleep Less (And That Affects Your Wellbeing Significantly!)
Just living in a big city can have an impact on your health so far as just ensuring that you sleep less than you should, interrupting your natural circadian rhythms and setting your melatonin and hormones all out of whack. Do you need any more reasons to take a weekend out in the country (or buy blackout curtains and a few plants?). Didn't think so.
Images: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images; Giphy (3)