No one argues the salubrious effects of water on human beings.
We came from water and are largely composed of water. There has been a large body of research devoted to the positive effects of green space, referring to vegetation; the profound positive effects of blue space, having to do with water in all forms is in its infancy.
Findings from research conducted in Europe, New Zealand, and the US found that just living within sight of water is linked to lower levels of psychological stress. The source of water does not seem to matter whether it is an ocean, river, pond, lake, or fountain the water features induce restorative experiences and create meaning.
“Water in all it’s forms can be the quickest shortcut to mindfulness and a shift into what I call ‘blue mind’ that I know of,” says Wallace J. Nichols, a scientist and author of Blue Mind: “The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do”. When we are near water, he says, “Our brains switch into a different mode which can involve mind-wandering, creativity, and sleep, which are all known to be important to health, resilience, and productivity”. Psychologists refer to water’s changing uniformity as putting us in a state of ‘soft fascination’, which can be highly restorative.
When I go for a stroll by Lakeside Park or White Rock Lake and experience the beautiful views and tranquility my mind enters a mildly meditative state and I can actually feel the muscles in my back and shoulders relax. Recognizing and utilizing the tonic effect of water features available in our fast-paced urban environment would likely make us all a bit happier and healthier.
Researchers have suggested that humans are drawn to water environments. From man’s earliest beginnings settlements have required water to thrive and the attraction may stem from something even more primal; Nichols says, “We are fundamentally made of water, it may be that we’re still wired as animals to feel rooted in nature”. Many homes for the aged and many psychiatrists utilize nature or water in various therapies. The positive effects of aquariums, even without fish have been known to help with Alzheimer’s patients.
Whatever science discovers and explains about the positive forces in the ‘blue effect’ I will feel better knowing that took I every opportunity available to go for walk around the lake, gaze at my fountains, or dive into my pool. It’s not lazing about; it’s taking the waters for my physical and mental health and well-being.