Lower levels of “psychological distress”
According to the Travel and Leisure site, a new study conducted by Michigan State University revealed that living in a place where you have the opportunity to see a lot of blue spaces, such as a body of water, leads to lower levels of “psychological distress.”
Research from the American university looked at the city of Wellington in New Zealand and looked at the correlation between whether or not people could see the sea and the country’s health records. They even took into account other factors such as age, gender, and wealth, and life at sea still improved people’s mental health.
According to one of the co-authors, Amber Pearson, that’s because the brain can process natural landscapes better. “This reduces sensory input and promotes mental relaxation. Mental relaxation is certainly part of the purpose of travel and vacations,” the scientist told Lonely Planet.
Enhancing the senses
While the study didn’t examine the effects of shorter periods spent in the water, many travelers would argue the sounds, smells, and sights of an ocean certainly evoke that “island time” feeling. Pearson admitted that there is more research to be done to see if those other senses come into play when it comes to the healing effects of a body of water.
Interestingly, the study found that those looking in “green spaces” such as parks or recreation fields did not receive the same mental health boost. However, last month a Harvard study found otherwise.