How 'blue spaces' can benefit mind and body

·2-min read

Spending time near water could help you feel healthier and happier.

Dr Catherine Kelly has spent eight years researching into the therapeutic effects of nature for her book Blue Spaces: How & Why Water Can Make You Feel Better, and believes taking time to connect with ourselves by 'blue spaces' - typically referring to natural waters - is hugely beneficial for our health.

"There's being in it, being next to it, thinking about it," Catherine said, reports The Guardian. "Being in the water brings you straight into your body. I think that's the crux of the wellbeing benefit of water: it brings you out of your head. You cannot ignore your body when water is pounding on top of you."

A relaxing bath, swimming in a sea or lake, watching the rain or even running the bathroom tap can help calm daily stresses.

Here are Catherine's top tips on making the most of 'blue spaces'.

Visit the coast

Catherine regularly visited her nearest beach during lockdown and believes different types of seas can benefit different moods. When she feels frustrated, she loves watching rough seas, while on calmer days enjoys swimming in the sunshine.

Walking along a beach and focusing on the horizon also gives us a sense of freedom and perspective, reminding us our problems may not be as big as we fear.

Listen to water

Catherine finds it meditative to sit by a fountain and filter out any other noise. If you don't have a fountain nearby, a garden pond will also work.

Cold water

The Wim Hof Method involves a blast of cold water at the end of your shower. Start by immersing yourself for ten seconds and aim to work up to one minute. This will trigger an anti-inflammatory response to ease anxiety and depression, plus improves circulation and releases endorphins.

If a full-body hit of freezing water is too much, simply splashing your face will also help.

Unwind in a bath

Take some time to yourself, light some candles and listen to relaxing music while you soak in the tub. Catherine recommends getting into the bath slowly to appreciate how the water feels on your skin. If you feel comfortable, try dunking your head underwater for a few seconds and holding your breath. This is a great way to relax near water without needing to leave home.

Catherine's other tips include imagining you are walking along a beach and thinking about what you can see, hear and smell, as well as going for an invigorating walk in the rain.