Key To Happiness: Live By The Ocean?
Vacationing by the ocean has always brought higher levels of happiness for me but I always assumed it was due to obvious factors like being on vacation (thus more relaxed and with an expectation of fun), childhood memories of our family at the coast, the general atmosphere of frivolity and fun, etc.
What if there was more to it?
A recent U.K. study of over 25,000 people found that those who reside a half mile from the beach or closer have better mental health than those who live more than 30 miles away. In fact, they were up to 40% less likely to show signs of mental health disorders.
The report notes that one in six adults in England suffers from a mental health disorder (Americans have a one in five ratio). A 2018 Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development report warned that mental disorders are on the rise in every country and will cost the global economy $16 trillion in lost productivity by 2030, with an estimated 12 billion working days lost to mental illness each year.
Whew. Those facts are a little depressing in and of themselves, right? Well, let me cheer you back up . . .
THERE IS A SOLUTION
These findings and other research on the therapeutic affects of blue spaces (including oceans, rivers and lakes) show that aquatic environments tend to increase physical activity, lower psychological distress, create better overall health and well-being and lower mortality rates. Want to know what state boasts the happiest and healthiest people in our country? Hawaii.
We might not all be able to move to the coast but we can make a more concerted effort to get out to blue spaces (green spaces have a positive affect as well) on the weekends and for vacation. And it does not have to be expensive. My girlfriend and I just stayed at a campground off the Oregon Coast for $20/night and it was amazing.
Life is amazing. You, dear reader, are amazing. Let's create a world full of happy people together. And it all starts with baby steps. Plan that next blue space break today!
With peace and happiness,