Mentioned in this recent piece on Tonic, studies on the incorporation of blue spaces – meaning visible waters such as lakes, rivers or coasts – into one’s life are shown to reduce psychological stress and increase mindfulness, among other mental and physical benefits.
Whether it’s because we need water to survive, human settlements always centered around water, or at some point most people have had a positive childhood experience around water, there is something about blue spaces that humans feel connected to – we just don’t quite know why yet, at least scientifically.
But as a former resident of Minneapolis – the city of lakes – and a lover of the Pacific Northwest, I don’t find the current lack of scientific evidence any less convincing. I would routinely go for walks or bike rides around the chain of lakes or along Minnehaha Creek every week, grateful that I was close to such serene bodies of water. On western vacations growing up, I would have to be pulled back to the trail from wandering over to burbling creeks. In college, I found excuses to go sit up by Dunnings’ Spring, a playful waterfall in the corner of Northeastern Iowa. And just this summer, on vacation at Cannon Beach in Oregon, I felt like I never needed to leave.
Call me sentimental. But perhaps, it’s science.