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Why time spent near the water is the secret to happiness

Gently close your eyes. Relax your shoulders, soften the belly. Take deep breaths through your nose. Feel the rise and fall of your chest with each calming inhalation and exhalation.

Now, imagine that you’re sitting on a golden sand beach, your legs stretched out in front of you. The sea gently laps against the shore, tickling your bare toes. The sun is glistening on the surface like twinkling stars. The cool breeze kisses your skin. The sun warms your shoulders. The soothing sound of the waves washes over you.

You gaze out over the expansive ocean. The ebb and flow of the water ripples with different shades of blues and greens. The iridescent colours shift as the sun dips in and out behind the floating white clouds. You are mesmerised.

Softly open your eyes again and observe how you feel.

Chances are that you are calm and relaxed after this visualisation by the sea.

We all intuitively know that spending time by bodies of water can be good for our wellbeing and mental health. However, up until recently, there had been little evidence to characterise and quantify these effects.

The organisation BlueHealth wanted to change this - and launched a groundbreaking study to investigate the health benefits of being by blue spaces. Between 2016 and 2020, they conducted over 20 studies in more than 18 different countries and surveyed 18,000 people.

The results? They found that water has psychologically restorative effects. Spending time in and around aquatic environments has consistently shown to induce positive mood and reduce negative mood and stress.

One of the lead investigators and environmental psychologist, Dr White believes that the ebb and flow of the tide can be particularly therapeutic. He says: “Spending time walking on the beach can help to transition from inward thinking to outward thinking toward the environment. This can help to put life into perspective.”

and now the Good News:

You don’t need to live near the sea to feel the benefits of being by the water. Spending time at a lake, river, pool - or even by a fountain - can be good for mind, body and soul. If you’re at home and unable to get to a blue space, try a watery visualisation practise like the one we started with, or listen to a soothing recording of the waves or flowing river before you drift off to sleep…

Did you know that here at Suryalila we have a low-chlorine saltwater swimming pool that is open and accessible , so you can benefit from the restorative powers of being by the water in the midst of the Andalusian hills 24 hours a day and 365 days a year whilst being nourished by daily yoga classes and delicious vegetarian food.

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