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?