Earlier this year at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, Katherine Ashbullby and Dr. Mathew White from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH), the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, and the School of Psychology, University of Plymouth attended. Studies were presented comparing coasts, country sides and urban parks. It was shown that just visiting the seaside boosted feelings of calmness and refreshment.
Ashbullby and her colleagues from the two institutions studied data from 2,750 participates over a two year study. They looked at people who had visited urban parks, the countryside and the coast. They found that no matter what location they went to, there were positive feelings like enjoyment, calmness, and refreshment associated with the area. However visits to the sea were found to be most beneficial. These findings stayed the same even after looking deeper into the study taking age, how far they traveled, the presence of others and their activity into consideration.
Great news for me and all of my fellow beach lovers! While it’s not possible for most of us to just pack up and move to the coast, knowing even a visit can still have positive health benefits brings me happiness. Thoughts of the beach always bring back memories of my childhood. My parents would pack all three of us kids up in the backseat of the car and haul a rented “pop up” camper behind us to Myrtle Beach, SC. It was only a couple hours away, and I miss those “good old days”.
We are so stressful these days. Although vacations are expensive and it would be wonderful if we could take more, maybe we could try to focus on a short visit more often if possible. If not, let’s work with what we do have. So I say, lets try to get outside in the open air and renew our souls! Maybe a beach trip is out of the question, but just sitting on the back-porch or balcony to read a book, meditate, or deep breathe will help de-stress. Even if practiced for only 30 minutes a day, I have a feeling we may all be very surprised at what this could do to help improve our stress levels, feelings of well being, and our immune system!