New Study Says Coastal Living Is Linked to Better Mental Health

Sadly, the flip side is true, too.

If you find the sea soothing, you're not the only one. Watching waves gently roll to and fro can be a meditative experience, and listening to their rhythmic roar as they bounce against the shore is akin to music. So, perhaps it's not altogether surprising that a new study published in the journal Health and Place found that living by the coast was associated with better mental health.

Researchers used data from nearly 26,000 respondents in the Health Survey for England and found that roughly one in six (17 percent) showed symptoms of anxiety or depression. Accounting for other variables, they specifically found that people who lived less than one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the coast had better mental health than those who lived more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the sea. This was especially true for those with low-income backgrounds, which is important, given that the study says that these individuals are especially likely to suffer from these issues.

The implications are significant given the current international efforts to improve mental health overall and better the quality of life of  low-earning households.

"Our research suggests, for the first time, that people in poorer households living close to the coast experience fewer symptoms of mental health disorders," Jo Garrett, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Exeter, and the lead author of the study, said in a press release. "When it comes to mental health, this 'protective' zone could play a useful role in helping to level the playing field between those on high and low income."

The results would also be of interest to environmental activists who are concerned with the impact that climate change can have on our coastlines, such as an increase in sea levels and more intense storm surges.

"This kind of research into blue health is vital to convincing governments to protect, create and encourage the use of coastal spaces," Mathew White, an environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter and a co-author of the study, said. "We need to help policy makers understand how to maximize the wellbeing benefits of 'blue' spaces in towns and cities and ensure that access is fair and inclusive for everyone, while not damaging our fragile coastal environments."

After all, not everyone can afford to live by the sea, especially on this side of the pond. But the study does add to growing research that indicates that if you're looking for a a little more peace of mind, it might, at the very least, be worth getting out of the city.

And to amplify your mental wellbeing today, learn all about how a New Study Offers Scientific Proof That Meditation Can Help With Anxiety.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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