Blue is a popular favorite color for many people. It’s also a color often found in nature—a clear blue sky, deep blue ocean—which may be why the color brings to mind feelings of calmness, peacefulness and tranquility.
A recent study published in Environmental Research, led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, finds that short walks in blue spaces (i.e. areas featuring fountains, lakes, rivers, ocean) are good for wellbeing, mental health and mood. The three-week study looked at 59 healthy adult office workers, who for 4 days each week, spent either 20 minutes walking in a blue space or an urban environment.
But how do we go about accessing blue spaces during a time like this? Here’s where things get interesting: You can find your happy place without leaving your home.
Having a happy place is important because it gives us a chance to unwind, relax and recenter. The place can be a deck with a view of the ocean, a mountain cabin or just somewhere in the home. It can even be an imagined place that exists in our mind.
In a recent study, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers Kelsey Merlo and colleagues find that daydreaming is good for people’s emotional health and work productivity. Participants were asked to provide, in their own words, the causes, content and results of their daydream interludes. Many of the participants believe that daydreaming is good for their wellbeing because it provides a brief mental wander somewhere else that they could control.
Here’s how to correctly daydream into your happy blue space, according to Jerome Singer, Professor Emeritus in the Psychology Department at Yale University.
Singer, who has studied this for over decades and divided daydreaming into three types, states that positive constructive daydreaming (PCD) is the kind of daydreaming that will ignite and energize the brain. This type of daydreaming is characterized by “playful, wishful imagery, and planful, creative thought,” which is different from obsessive thoughts or the one-too-many-drinks uncontrolled kind of mind wandering.
Here’s how you can apply PCD to find your happy place, according to this Harvard article.
And as opposed to slipping into a daydream, which is more like falling off a cliff, you must parachute into the recesses of your mind with a playful and wishful image—perhaps one of you lying on a yacht or floating on your back in a pool on vacation. Then comes the swivel of attention—from looking outside, to wandering inside. With this move, you engage your unfocused brain and all the riches that it can bring.
For your weekend getaway, how about dreaming a little dream of “blue”?
Merlo, K. L., Wiegand, K.E., Shaughnessy, S.P., et al. (2020). A Qualitative Study of Daydreaming Episodes at Work. Journal of Business and Psychology; New York, Vol. 35, Iss. 2: 203-222. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-018-9611-4
Singer, J. L. (1975). Navigating the stream of consciousness: Research in daydreaming and related inner experience. American Psychologist, 30(7), 727–738. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0076928