True Blue Space Benefits

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Are you as tired of “grey space” as I am? Grey trees, grey grass, grey skies, mud-grey horses…everywhere I look, I see shades of grey (sadly not the EL James variety.) I don’t know what winter has been like in your part of the world, but here in the south of France, we have had one of the wettest winters in decades. It is supposed to be spring now, le printemps devrait etre là! We should be seeing fresh green buds and bright yellow daffodils. No such luck, not this year. All this “grey space” is getting me down. It’s downright depressing.

I long for “green space.”
I need mud-free horses, mud-free fields, mud-free boots, mud-free clothes, mud-free hair.

A lot of research has been done about the potential health benefits of spending time in “green space.” Green space is defined as the “green lungs” of towns and cities which contribute to improving people’s physical and mental health by providing places for recreation – walking, running, cycling, sitting and socialising – away from the stresses of modern life. All good and well, except that these “green spaces” are currently “grey spaces” and not of tremendous use to anyone.

I recently read an article about the healing power of blue space, as opposed to green space.

The benefits of blue spaces have not been studied in detail yet, but one or two studies have revealed that blue spaces may be even more beneficial to us than green spaces. Blue spaces are characterised by the presence of water: a lake, a waterfall, a pond, a river, a stream or my personal favourite, the sea.  “Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Amber Pearson, assistant professor of health geography and a member of MSU’s Water Science Network. “However, we did not find that with green space.”

Mireia Gascon, an ISGlobal researcher said, “Findings suggest that outdoor blue spaces have potential benefits for health, particularly in terms of mental health, general wellbeing and physical activity.”

I lived for a large part of my working life either on an island (Jersey, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of France) or by the sea. For the last 9 years we have lived inland, admittedly only 2 hours from the sea and the last 3 years with a 1 Ha (2 acres) lake on our land. Somehow I am just not getting my “blue space fix” from looking at our lake. It may well be because the water in our lake, this time of the year, is the same grey-mud colour as the rest of the paysage.

After having looked at this depressing landscape for several months, in February, I had the opportunity to put the “blue space theory” into practice. We travelled to South Africa where we were privileged to spend most of our time within sight or within short walking distance from the beach. Whenever we drove somewhere, the sea was at our side. The weather was varied, some days were bright summer sunshine, others were windy and wet, but always the sea hogged our steps, wherever we went.

It made me blissfully happy. While we were there, due to a complication I developed after the operation I had in December, I was told that I would need another big eye operation when I got back to France. Scared me witless. We went for a long walk on Noordhoek beach and my fears subsided. It is impossible to remain upset when you are surrounded by such infinite beauty. The sort of beauty that overwhelms your senses, freezes you on the spot and makes you forget who you are. I could be easily convinced that this sort of “blue space beauty” could heal a wounded spirit.

Now, a month later, it is time for the operation and the South African sea is 11 000 km away. Luckily for me, and possibly also for you, researchers have found that a substantial amount of benefit can be gained from looking at pictures of “blue space.” Now that I can no longer go to the sea, I look at the pictures I took while we were there and I thought I would share them here with you, so that you too can benefit from the soothing and healing effect of these blue space pictures.

Looking at these pictures again makes me feel immensely grateful that I could spend a couple of weeks in such uplifting surroundings. I find blue spaces more powerfully restorative than green spaces. In your opinion?

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14 thoughts on “True Blue Space Benefits

  1. Annie Craven

    Thank you for this…I lived next to sea and mountains in the Highlands all my life til I went briefly to the Borders and found myself running to the coast as often as I could! Then Ariège living in a deep narrow valley but with fabulous view and a river before me and a waterfall running through my property. Now in the dry Aude and you are right the mud coloured lakes don’t do it. Blue skies help but we haven’t had so many lately. Need to move; this little Pisces can’t live without moving water! I do hope you are on the mend. With love xx

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    • I know exactly what you mean about moving water! Not so much of that in the Aude. My other half comes from the Borders, so I have been to the east coast sea and loved its ever-changing moods. Yep, I definitely don’t think the Aude is the place for a Pisces! not even mentioning the wind…

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  2. My prayers to you for your upcoming surgery. I do believe in blue spaces, but more in the form of the endless sky I see from the top of a mountain 🙂 That equals freedom to me. Funny enough I live in a valley right now, and is surrounded by green at the moment. March/April, and if we’re lucky May is our green months. After that only frequently watered places, like my garden, is green. The rest takes a burned brownish color. Thank you for sharing your lovely photos. I do enjoy walking next to the sea/ocean. I had a lovely trip to the Pacific Ocean for my Birthday in December last year. All the best to you my friend ❤

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    • I know your world, Maria, specifically your amazing vegetable garden. I feel enormously privileged that you share it with me. I also know your skies and your mountains and I have to agree, in your world the blue lives in the sky. I wish I could take as stunning pictures as you do – see norcalzen.wordpress.com. Take very good care of yourself, dear friend, and of your little one (not so little anymore!) too.

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      • Thank YOU 🙏 my friend for your most kind words 🙏 I feel blessed that our paths crossed. The way you find positivity even during struggles is very inspiring. You feel like a soul sister to me. My thoughts are with you.

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  3. I grew up in the Cape Province and lived close to Table Mountain for many years, yet I chose to retire to the Southcoast, where the climate is warmer and we can swim in the Indian Ocean even in summer. I have plenty of blue space and quite a few green lungs to enjoy, but now I miss the mountains. Never satisfied, are we? These pictures are beautiful, thank you for sharing. Best wishes for the operation, I trust all will go well.

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  4. First, I’m so sorry to hear that you need another operation. I’ll be praying and thinking of you. Second, this is so TRUE! I must always have an ocean fix. We live in Connecticut and about an hour away from the sound. Unfortunately, most shoreline in CT is either privately owned or a State park and you need to pay fees to get in. But at this time of year (and most of the time) the water is murky and gray. Instead, I prefer to head south around this time of year to get a warm weather ocean fix. In a few weeks, we’ll be headed to South Carolina so I can stroll along the beach morning and night and get warm.

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  5. I do so agree about Blue spaces. This is the beauty of Greece, Blue is all around. It could well be described as a Blue country. And, having spent the winter in Normandy, I’m also sick of endless mud… Vivement les beaux jour. I’m so sorry you’ve had all this trouble with your eyes, Margaretha, good luck with the op, and hope you’re better soon. Much love 💕

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    • Vivement l’arrivée du printemps! Today a bit of sunshine to cheer us up, and very welcome it was too. I remember Normandie, the mud there is like glue. When I think of Greece though, I indeed always think of azure blue…and pristine white. Much love to you too, Mirena

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