Why reading by the sea is good for your mental health

I love being by the sea. For somebody who has never lived close to water and doesn’t really like being in the sea, it might seem surprising, but as it turns out I’m not the only one. The sound of the waves is so good for my mental health.

Health & Place Journal’s recent study revealed that I’m not alone. It surveyed 26,000 British people and found that people who lived closer to the sea were less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

You can’t go to a spa without being offered an abundance of water-based treatments and if you take a look back through history, being by the sea was actually prescribed to help a whole range of physical ailments.

I wanted to share with you some of my favourite places to read by the sea – both near and far – because there’s nothing better than reading with the sound of waves in the background.

Norfolk, UK

Norfolk

Beaches in the UK aren’t exactly famous – especially not in proximity to London. That’s what makes Norfolk unique. The beaches are so vast that even on the busiest of days (the picture above was during this year’s very hot August bank holiday weekend) they can be pretty much empty.

No33 Hunstanton is the perfect base. If you turn left and then left again out of the entrance, you’ll come to a beautiful green overlooking the sea. The benches on that green are the perfect place to enjoy the views and read a book. I read most of The Giver Of Stars by Jojo Moyes on this beach.

Carmel, CA

Carmel California

I’d heard how great West Coast sunsets were, but you can’t really understand until you see one for yourself. Again, these beaches are so vast and because of that, they never seem full.

I read Postscript by Cecelia Ahern sitting right here on this beach. There are so many cool places to stay in Carmel, but if you can check out the Airbnbs, the hospitality here is pretty special. We stayed here, it’s a 20-minute walk into town and perhaps 30 to the sea.

Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy

Take a private boat out on the lake and soak in everything this breathtaking place has to offer. If it’s good enough for George Clooney, it’s good enough for me.

This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to and I came back feeling so relaxed. I sat on this boat and read How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne which was the perfect light-hearted story to read in the sun.

Stay in the Hilton Lake Como and eat in Crianza in the town (you’ll thank me later for that recommendation).

Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

The sound of the sea in Sri Lanka is everything. The waves crash in a way that is altogether unique. The coastline is rugged (for want of a better description) and the rocks, as you can see in the picture above, create the most stereotypical wave crashing sound.

The waves sent me to sleep every night at Anantara Peace Haven in a way you can usually only get from a white noise app.

I read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman in the pool overlooking this sea and it made my heart hurt I felt so content.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

I often say that cities with beaches are my favourite; Barcelona, San Francisco – they have everything you need in one place.

Barcelona is a great city for so many reasons and its beach is up there. I took this picture on New Year’s Eve – it was so warm, which makes it even better. Winter sun doesn’t have to come from the other side of the world.

I listened to (it was a busy holiday) The Sleeper by Emily Barr on this holiday — a haunting and captivating thriller.

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