‘Blue Rooms’ Appear To Have An Effect On People That Is Rippling Even Decades Later – ScienceAlert | Directory Mayhem

The fun of splashing around on the beach or exploring a creek is an iconic part of childhood for countless children around the world. It can also be a valuable investment in lifelong mental health, according to a new study.

Spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve mood, and provide other mental health benefits, but despite mounting scientific evidence, many people still don’t do it.

Of course, this is not always voluntary. Not everyone has easy access to wilderness, and while some city parks and urban forests offer similar benefits, they aren’t available everywhere either.

For many people it is a matter of motivation. Even if we could take an hour to hike in a forest or relax on a riverbank, we may not feel sufficiently committed. Urban environments are filled with duties, distractions, and distractions that capture our attention.

And as the new study suggests, our differing motivations for visiting nature as adults — and therefore our differing exposure to the potential health benefits — may be rooted in our youth. This supports previous research linking childhood experiences in nature to mental health in adulthood.

“In the context of an increasingly technological and industrialized world, it is important to understand how childhood experiences in nature relate to well-being later in life,” says lead author Valeria Vitale, a Ph.D. Candidate at the Sapienza University of Rome.

Using data from 16,000 people around the world, Vitale and her colleagues found that adults who displayed a relatively high frequency of cheerfulness were more likely than children to report playing in and around “blue rooms,” indicating watery ones Environments related as oceans, lakes, rivers and streams.

Previous research has linked exposure to blue spaces to improved mental health, similar to the famous benefits of forests and other vegetated habitats known as green spaces.

And since many blue areas are actually blue-green, with trees or other significant plants surrounding the water, “childhood exposure to blue areas also likely plays a role in predicting future frequency of green area visits,” the authors of the new study write .

The study uses data from the BlueHealth International Survey, a cross-national survey “which, according to its website, focuses on recreational use of blue spaces and their relationship to human health.”

In the survey, respondents were asked to recall childhood blue room experiences from birth to age 16, along with details of how often they walked, how far they had to travel, and how comfortable their parents or guardians seemed to allow them to let play there.

They were also asked about their lives today, including their emotional and psychological well-being over the past two weeks and how often they have visited green or blue areas over the past four weeks.

According to the survey, adults who recalled more childhood experiences in blue rooms tended to place more value on natural spaces in general and tended to visit them more often. Both traits, in turn, were associated with better mental health in adulthood.

Intrinsic motivation is “the desire to do something because it is enjoyable, valuable, and inherently rewarding,” the researchers write. In this study, people who saw greater intrinsic value in nature also visited natural environments more often and experienced better mental health.

This aligns with previous research suggesting that intrinsic motivation can make a big difference.

Intrinsic motivation not only appears to help generate interest and engagement in a useful leisure activity, the researchers note, but may also make the activity even more useful.

Someone who is intrinsically motivated to perform an activity tends to be more relaxed, focused, and less burdened by negative emotions than someone who is extrinsically motivated, previous research suggests. This can increase enjoyment of the activity and further reinforce it as a habit.

“Our results suggest that building familiarity and trust in and around blue spaces during childhood can stimulate an inherent joy in nature,” says Vitale, “and encourages people to seek out relaxing experiences in nature, with positive outcomes.” for adult mental health.”

Of course, allowing young children to play by the water can be heartbreaking for parents and guardians who need to consider both a child’s immediate safety and long-term happiness.

“Water environments can be dangerous for children, and parents are right to be cautious,” says co-author Leanne Martin, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Exeter’s European Center for Environment and Human Health.

“However, this research suggests that helping children become comfortable in these environments and developing skills like swimming at an early age may have previously unrecognized lifelong benefits.”

The study was published in The Journal of Environmental Psychology.

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