In November last year I came across an article on bbc.com called “The surprising benefits of blue spaces”; blue spaces meaning lakes, rivers and the sea. The article claimed that the concept of blue spaces “is proving to be a powerful, practical tool for mental health”. From personal experience I have no doubt it is good for us to be close to water. I know the sensation of happiness and relaxation I feel in a blue space – I guess you do too?
Growing up in Oslo with the Oslo Fjord literally in Oslo, access to the sea was always easy for me. I am not a natural water person, and never thought a so-called blue space would mean anything until I worked as au pair in Paris when I was eighteen. That is when I discovered I missed the closeness to water. The river Seine did not represent the expanse of water that I needed for my wellbeing – at the time I was used to more!
Several years later I lived in Brussels for a couple of years. On summer weekends with beautiful weather we would go to the sea, but so much traffic (as everybody went), and so far to get there and back, so it was a patience game. The time we left Brussels to spend a long-weekend in Istanbul I remember feeling so much relief when I saw the sea and its waves. It was a feeling that surprised me a lot. I did not know the sea could have such a powerful effect on me.
This past summer I spent a week in Oslo. At the time I had already made plans to move from England to Norway. The decision was in the back of my mind the whole time. I was wondering if I would truly like it there. And then I went down to the fjord with my sister… Oh the joy to realise that moving back to Oslo would mean seeing sunlight dance on the surface of the water and I would be able to go for a swim or cold dip all year round.
Finally, yesterday, another powerful illustration came to me about how much I value closeness to blue space for my wellbeing. After having woken up in a “normal” mood in my flat in the South of France, I took my dog out for a walk. As we walked closer to the sea I felt a sudden burst of joy in my body. The sea was there, like an invitation for me to enjoy it. It made my day.
I feel very grateful to have the sea in my natural environment at the moment. Luckily it isn’t the only space that can be a source of joy, happiness and relaxation! Any place in nature has the power to lift our mood and have a positive effect on our wellbeing. I encourage everyone to go out and enjoy nature daily, whether the space is blue, green, or winter white (!), even if it is for a short period of time. I am a firm believer that being out in nature, and at the same time giving our attention to the nature that surrounds us, is super beneficial for the way we feel.
Wishing you well! Annette X