Better mental health Stress less with ocean views

Better mental health: Stress less with ocean views

What would you associate with the color blue? Likely, it would be somewhere close to tranquillity and calmness. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body as it slows metabolism and has a calming effect. And in a study in the Health & Place journal, researchers have found the link between health and the visibility of water, the blue space, where increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress.


In the study, the researchers used various topography data, and studied the visibility of blue and green spaces from residential locations in Wellington, New Zealand. The urban capital city is surrounded by the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean, the blue space. Green space includes forests and grassy parks. They then analysed data from the New Zealand Health Survey using the Psychological Distress Scale. The scale, also known as the K10, has shown to be an accurate predictor of anxiety and mood disorders.


Taking into account the residents’ wealth, age, sex and other factors, the study revealed that having an ocean view was associated with improved mental health. Surprisingly, the research did not find the association with green space. It was postulated that it could be because the study did not distinguish between the types of green space; while the blue space was all natural, green space included man-made areas, such as sports fields and playgrounds, apart from native forests. It then suggested the possibility of different findings should only the impact of native forests be investigated.


The evaluation revealed the importance of effective city planning and building affordable high-rise homes in areas with ocean views to promote mental health. Future research could possibly investigate and validate if the findings would also hold true for large fresh bodies of water, such as the Great Lakes.


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