Green spaces are certainly a commonly sought refuge when urban dwellers are feeling stressed, however blue space and being by open water is potentially even better for the mind.
There are three different pathways by which exposure to water is so good for health. Firstly, being by open water will almost always result in more sunlight exposure and vitamin D. In addition to this point, when people are by open water they frequently do more active things such as walks or water sports. However perhaps most notably, water has a psychologically restorative effect on the mind.
Open water spaces certainly have some of the most positive impacts, but work with what you have around you, and if that's a river to walk along, you're still sure to get some benefits from this. When we walk outdoors in the environment, we are more likely to look outwards and get perspective, rather than focusing inwards. This is helpful for the mind. Swimming is quite literally an immersive experience and forces the swimmer to fully concentrate, and this allows a release from daily thoughts.
So how can you experience the restorative properties of open water?
Whilst we are lucky enough to be a relatively small island surrounded by the sea, it's not always easy to get there. More and more open water Lidos are popping up in the country, which makes an open water swimming experience accessible to more people.
Proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental wellbeing, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations.