If the sight of the sea cheers you up and makes you feel good, it's not that surprising. There's a growing body of evidence to suggest a clear correlation between close proximity to the sea and better psychological health.
Analysis by the Economic and Social Research Institute in Ireland has indicated that coastal-dwellers aged 50 and over who enjoy sea views have lower rates of depression than the rest of the population. They found that exposure to “coastal blue space” is associated with beneficial mental health outcomes and those with the “highest share of sea view visibility” had lower depression scores. As a result of their findings, they suggest that urban planners should take such benefits into account.
These findings are in tune with those reported by Michael Depledge, chair of Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School in England. He has conducted extensive studies around the effects of spending time around water, and has concluded that as well as physical health benefits, spending time near the water slows down our heart rate, reduces stress hormones and boosts mental health. In one study, he used data from a government-run annual health survey of England, and discovered that coastal residents consistently reported feeling healthier than those living further away from the sea.
Research in Canada and New Zealand has indicated that people based nearer the sea claim to be happier than those inland. Having an ocean view at your house – or indeed your holiday home – can have a significant impact on your mental health, according to other research. This suggests that there are very real benefits to taking vacations by the sea and soaking in the atmosphere at every opportunity. Even if you don't live beside the coast, hopefully the positive, calming effects of seeing the rolling waves and smelling the sea air on vacation will sustain you once you return to regular life.
(via Lonely Planet)