Healing Power of Blue Spaces: How Being Near Water Boosts Mental Health


Water has a mesmerizing effect that goes beyond its physical sustenance; its presence is inherently soothing to the human spirit. The term ‘blue space’ refers to natural aquatic environments like oceans, lakes, rivers, and even urban water features that can have profound psychological benefits. Recent research has begun to uncover just how significant these effects are on mental health and well-being.

The Psychological Impact of Water

  • Stress Reduction: Numerous studies have shown that water can significantly decrease stress levels. The sight and sound of water are known to lower cortisol, the stress hormone, and enhance feelings of relaxation and zen.
  • Improved Mood: Being near water has been linked to increased positive emotions and decreased negative feelings. The negative ions produced by moving water in oceans and rivers might be one reason, as they are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of serotonin, a mood-enhancing chemical in the brain.
  • Enhanced Creativity: Exposure to water can boost creativity. It provides a break from life’s stimuli, which allows our brains to open up to deeper thoughts and reflections, fostering creativity and problem-solving capabilities.

Scientific Studies Supporting Blue Space Benefits

  • Research from the University of Exeter found that people living closer to the coast reported better health and well-being. This was not just a result of more frequent physical activity but also due to the psychological benefits provided by the proximity to water.
  • A study published in ‘Health & Place’ demonstrated that visible water is associated with lower levels of psychological distress. The study suggested that even small bodies of water in urban settings could help reduce stress and improve mental health.

Examples of Blue Spaces and Their Uses

  • Urban Water Features: Even in cities, small fountains or reflective pools can serve as beneficial blue spaces. These features can provide a focal point for relaxation and a temporary escape from urban stress.
  • Therapeutic Water Gardens: Hospitals and health centers increasingly incorporate water gardens into their landscapes, recognizing their soothing effects on patients and staff alike.
  • Public Parks with Lakes or Rivers: These are invaluable for community health, offering accessible places for relaxation and social interaction, which are crucial for mental wellness.

How to Engage with Blue Spaces

  • Mindful Interaction: When near a body of water, practice mindfulness. Focus on the sound of the water, the patterns of ripples or waves, and the sensations of moisture in the air. This mindful engagement can enhance the therapeutic effects.
  • Regular Visits: Make regular visits to blue spaces a part of your routine. Even short visits can help reset your stress levels and boost your mood.
  • Photography and Art: Capturing images or painting scenes of water can be a therapeutic activity that allows you to creatively engage with blue spaces.


The tranquility of water, whether it be a babbling brook, a serene lake, or the vast ocean, offers more than just aesthetic pleasure—it’s a powerful source of mental restoration. As we continue to understand and harness the benefits of blue spaces, their integration into our environments seems not only beneficial but essential. For anyone looking to enhance their mental health, seeking out and spending time in blue spaces might be one of the most enjoyable and effective remedies available.