The organisation representing Scottish tourism has found through recent research that ‘water wellness’ is a trend likely to soar in Scotland with the country’s plethora of scenic coastal and inland water spots.
VisitScotland commissioned YouGov to research whether UK adults believe in the positive mental and physical benefits of being near water, as proposed by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols with the ‘Blue Mind’ describing the feeling of being at peace around water.
According to YouGov’s findings, Brits appear to be very blue-minded, with 73 per cent of UK adults believing that being near water can reduce stress levels.
In addition, almost two thirds of UK adults believe that being around water can reduce anxiety and depression.
The research completed as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020/21 also identified that walking along a deserted beach was chosen as the most popular activity UK adults would like to do as a way to unwind if on holiday in Scotland.
VisitScotland is now highlighting water-based activities on offer across Scotland which allow everyone to ride the wave of the water wellness trend.
These include paddle boarding at Galloway Activity Centre in Dumfries & Galloway or Willowgate Activity Centre in Perthshire, wild swimming at Loch Morlich in Cairngorms National Park and waterside walks through Edinburgh, along coasts in Fife and past cascading waterfalls in Shetland.
Sue Ranger, social science lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said the benefits of water to people’s wellbeing could also help conservation efforts by fostering greater love and respect of local blue spaces.
"If you can enable people to unlock that blue mind and access that lovely feeling you can get for free by just standing beside some water, then you've taken the first step in helping people make a connection to it and seeing that the environment is of value to them,” Ms Ranger said.
She added: “So then it puts people in a better position to think ‘how do I repay that generosity that nature is showing me?’
"It’s like [Sir David] Attenborough said – you aren’t going to look after things you don’t love.”
Chris Greenwood, VisitScotland senior insights manager, said: “Similar to forest bathing, water wellness is that connection to our natural resources and its impact on our physical and mental health.
"The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the wellbeing of people all across the country and over the past year we’ve seen evidence of people embracing activities that help address this, such as the increasing popularity of wild swimming.
“With its remote lochs, breath-taking beaches and bustling waterways, Scotland is ideally placed to capitalise on the trend for water wellness and there is an exciting opportunity for businesses to benefit by promoting the experiences they can offer.“Tourism and events will help to rebuild the Scottish population’s well-being – everyone deserves a holiday, and Scotland, and all it offers, will be the perfect antidote after lockdown.”
To find out more about water wellness activities on offer across Scotland, visit VisitScotland’s website here.