"Oh we do like to be beside the Seaside"
Watching an episode of “Location, Location, Location” the other day I was struck by what was said about living by the sea. It was stated that “studies have proven that being by the sea has a more positive effect on your mental well being then being in the countryside or an urban park. Also that the sound of waves combined with sea air do help you both relax and sleep better. (Source: Dr. Peter Venn, The Sleep Disorder Clinic, East Grinstead). Seaside residents report better health (Source: University of Exeter Medical School).”
So I did a little more research and found that in a two-year study that consisted of 2.750 participants, researchers found that while all outdoor locations were associated with positive feelings of enjoyment, calmness and refreshment, being next to the beach was significantly more likely to create positive feelings and a visit to the urban park had the least positive effect.
The trend remained even after researchers accounted for factors such as age, distance travelled, who they were with, and what they did.
Study authors Katherine Ashbullby and Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health found that the seaside was always identified as being a more positive experience compared to any urban parks or countryside destinations and people who travelled alone were more likely to get more enjoyment from being next to the sea.
Researcher were unsure why being by the coast was more refreshing than other types of settings, but they suggest that people may respond positively by the way light plays on the water, by the sounds of the sea or because of social or cultural beliefs about the benefits of being along the coast.
"There is a lot of work on the beneficial effects of visiting natural environments, but our findings suggest it is time to move beyond a simple urban versus rural debate and start looking at the effect that different natural environments have on people's health and well-being,” White said in a statement.
For artists being by the sea can have a profound effect on their work. For JMW Turner (1775-1851), who is one of the most celebrated artists in British history, location was of great importance. He remarked to the influential writer and art critic John Ruskin that “…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe”. The unique quality of light in this part of Kent drew Turner back time and again.
More than 100 of Turner’s works, including some of his most famous seascapes, were inspired by the East Kent coast. Margate was the starting point for his visits to Europe, and a love of the sea stayed with him all his life.
I lived in the coastal town of Broadstairs, Kent from the age of 4 to 14, a stones throw from the local beach of Dumpton Gap. Lying in bed at night the sounds of the waves and the smell of the sea air would send me into a deep sleep. On a foggy night you would hear ships fog horns sounding far out in the English Channel, such a dreamy and soothing sound!
It would be interesting to hear the experiences from members who have moved from countryside to coast or vice versa so please drop us a line.