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Can Living Near Water Make You Happier?

Nothing eases my mind and reduces my stress levels like a trip to the beach. Even with four young kids in tow, I feel so relaxed as I look out over the Gulf of Mexico from one of the gorgeous 30A beaches in the Florida panhandle.

I’ll bet you know that feeling. And now there is scientific evidence that being near the water does indeed make humans feel better, according to Mental Floss.

Michigan State University researchers correlated views of the water in Wellington, New Zealand with data on residents’ overall health, mental health, doctor visits, chronic illnesses, and socioeconomic status. The result: “Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress.”

Of interest to those of you who prefer the mountains to the beach: the researchers did not find the same level of psychological benefit from woodland views. But that could be because the viewable green space considered in the research was not pristine — it included things like ball fields and playgrounds.

The Michigan State results confirm a growing body of evidence that humans have a visceral connection to the water. Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols has written an entire book on that topic, Blue Mind.

Our attraction to the water is one reason that beach property is so expensive. But if you crave the seaside lifestyle and its psychological benefits, there are ways to claim your little slice of heaven at a (somewhat) reasonable price. Start here, with my list of the beaches where you can still get a bargain on a foreclosed property.

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