Freeport, ME, September 30, 2021
We talk a lot about the restorative power of green spaces– but it’s time to give some love to blue spaces. Poets and authors have long written about the beauty of timeless sea breezes, dark blue waves, and the tranquil bay. Artists know, too. Blue is consistently the world’s favorite color (yes, the world). Art historian Denis Dutton thinks this might be because it reminds us of clear blue skies or peaceful landscapes with lakes and rivers that offer us a sense of comfort and peace. From rivers and lakes, to gulfs and sounds, we wanted to know what it is about the water that makes us feel so good.
There is still much research to be done, but there is evidence to suggest that proximity to water is strongly linked to our brains’ feel-good hormones, including dopamine and oxytocin. The sound of waves, too, has proven to set our minds at ease. The rhythm of waves can activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which slows down the brain and helps promote relaxation.
Blue is also associated with feelings of calm and peace and is sometimes linked to creativity. Blue has even been shown to lower pulse rate. While there is less evidence to support the benefits of blue spaces than green spaces, we do know that experiencing awe in nature – whether you’re on a mountain top or a beach front – has big effects on how we feel.
We’ve also learned that awe is just as much about intention as it is about setting. So next time you visit the nearest body of water, take some time to reflect on the scene. Take it all in in a new way – its colors, scents, and sounds.