Why it’s time to get water well

East Lothian beach

It’s perhaps surprising that we don’t pay more attention to the importance of water in our lives. The human body is 60 per cent water, while 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered in rivers and oceans. Yet few of us stop to consider the significance of water, or how it might benefit us over and above cleaning and hydration.

That might be about to change. The concept of water wellness has risen to prominence in recent years, especially as people try to rebalance after a period of unprecedented turbulence. But before considering how water wellness can improve health by stealth, it’s important to define what this term actually describes.

Fluid dynamics

Over the years, it’s been widely reported that exposure to green spaces benefits our mental health. Yet our ancestors also knew blue spaces have a similar effect, with Victorians often convalescing from illness in a coastal resort. As well as clear air and a change of scenery, they knew water is immersive in every sense. And if you’re battling anxiety or intrusive thoughts, it’s hard to overstate the significance of being in a soothing environment.

It’s only in the last few years that studies have begun to re-examine the link between mental health and water. Regularly visiting lakes or beaches improves personal wellbeing and reduces the risk of depression, assuaging anger and even making people more generous. So-called blue space interventions (activities like kayaking or swimming) have restorative effects on physical health, psycho-social wellbeing and creative thought. No wonder Albert Einstein spent as much time as possible in a boat, despite being a notoriously bad sailor.

Why is this the case?

Psychologists and medical professionals have put forward a number of theories behind water wellness. Water tends to be peaceful and slow-moving, capable of lowering pulse rates and calming a racing mind. Lochs and canals are found in areas with less noise and pollution, while waterfalls and waves create ambient white noise. The ‘red mind’ state of anxiety caused by modern life and electronic devices is easier to escape at a lake than in the homes which cause us so much stress in the first place.

Interacting with water through physical activities such as swimming releases endorphins, which make us feel good. Even sedentary activities like painting or photography focus the mind on timeless natural beauty, rather than transient artificial worries. The natural world may be reassuringly permanent, but it’s constantly changing – a pleasant contrast to the fixed surroundings of the buildings we spend so much time in nowadays.

Where can I get water well?

The simple answer is any natural beauty spot with a large body of water. You might not find much peace amid the construction noise of Newhaven Harbour, but a few miles east on the lovely coastline at Aberlady or Longniddry, lies a very different story. The River Clyde is surprisingly tranquil nowadays, especially if you find yourself at Glasgow Harbour or Clyde View Park in Renfrew. Ditto Scotland’s largest urban nature park, the Seven Lochs Wetland Park, which belies its urban surroundings. Even the largest urban area will offer opportunities to get water well, harnessing the full restorative powers of this abundant natural resource.

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