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Embracing Blue Space: The Vitality of Water in Our Lives

I have always been drawn to the ocean.  There is something so comforting to me about gazing out at the endless horizon and seeing nothing but water. No matter what’s happening in my life, what tragedies are impacting the world, what chaos surrounds me, the ocean never changes.  The waves may get bigger or smaller depending on the weather, but the ebbs and flows of the tide never cease, and the waves never stop crashing upon the shore.  I can take a picture of the ocean today and you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was the year 2024 or the year 1977.  You wouldn’t be able to tell if it was winter, spring, summer, or fall.  When I need to feel stability and peace in my life I turn to the ocean.  I am a thalassophile (a lover of the sea, finding solace and sanctuary in its timeless embrace).  It was just recently though that I discovered the term “blue space”, and realized how perfectly it explained why I had such a strong desire for this in my life.  Correction; not just a desire but a NEED.

 

Living in the midwest for 17 years, I was very familiar with “green space”.  Although I would appreciate green space, I would often unknowingly try to convert my green space into blue space.  I’m specifically thinking of a cornfield in Ross, Ohio right next to Stricker’s Grove Amusement Park (a scene reminiscent of the movie “Field of Dreams”) where during the summer, the corn is so high and so lush and so uniformly lined up in perfectly straight rows, when the wind blew, it very much resembled a vast sea to me.  In fact, I used to call this field “My Ohio Ocean”.

Just as green spaces have been shown to have numerous health benefits, from reducing stress to improving mood and overall well-being, blue spaces offer their own unique set of advantages.  Blue space refers to any body of water, whether it’s the vast expanse of the ocean, a tranquil lake, a winding river, or even a simple pond.

 

Spending time near water has a profoundly calming effect on the mind. The gentle lapping of waves, the rhythmic flow of a river, or the stillness of a lake can induce a state of relaxation that is unparalleled.  Whether we realize it or not, this need for blue space is why so many people flock to beaches for vacations.  Research has shown that being near water triggers a neurological response that promotes feelings of tranquility and reduces stress levels. In fact, the color blue itself is associated with feelings of calm and serenity, further enhancing the therapeutic effect of blue spaces.  In 2022 our family moved from Harrison, Ohio to Linwood, New Jersey.  New Jersey is known as the “Garden State”, and does not lack green space, but it also offers over 140 miles of front row blue space!  And can I just add, I have never met so many happy and healthy octo and nonagenarians! People live longer and happier by the sea!

 

Moreover, blue spaces provide ample opportunities for physical activity and recreation. Whether it’s swimming, surfing, kayaking, or simply going for a leisurely stroll along the shore, water-based activities offer a fun and refreshing way to stay active and healthy.  Unlike traditional forms of exercise, such as jogging or going to the gym, water-based activities are low-impact and easy on the joints, making them accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels.  Our family has enjoyed countless hours on the bay kayaking from our neighborhood dock. I find my stress immediately vanishes as I ease my kayak into the water, step in, and paddle through the bay waters.

Blue spaces are not just beautiful natural landscapes; they are essential elements of our physical and mental well-being. By embracing and appreciating the value of water in our lives, we can reap the countless benefits that blue spaces have to offer. So the next time you’re feeling stressed or in need of a change of scenery, consider seeking out a nearby body of water and immersing yourself in the soothing embrace of blue space.

 

Come to New Jersey where we offer the best of both worlds: abundant green space and blue space!