When Anna moved from the city to a seaside town she found it difficult to settle and began feeling stressed and isolated. But being by the sea has been the key to improving her wellbeing.
A year ago, I moved to the seaside town of Southend-on-Sea to start a new job. I had always wanted to live nearer to the coast but moving from a vibrant city to a quiet town was difficult and I soon began to feel lonely.
The daytimes were good. I was settling into my new role, keeping very busy and focusing on my work. However, when it reached the end of the day, the thought of the commencing evenings filled me with dread - going home and being inside because I had no reason to be outside and nobody to meet up with.
I found myself overworking and avoiding leaving the office to do something or be somewhere.
Working long hours and being alone only increased my levels of stress and often I would sub-consciously take work home with me anyway to fill the void.
I tried joining the gym and starting yoga classes but I resented spending money being indoors when I had moved to a seaside town! The next few months were frustrating.
I wanted to enjoy the natural environment around me but I was unsure about doing it on my own without feeling lonely.
I even started therapy sessions to deal with my frustration but realised that sitting inside was part of the problem, not the solution. Now, one year in and I feel I have found the balance. I moved to a new house just a 5-minute walk from the sea.
I leave work on time and head straight down to the seafront to clear my mind and soak up my surroundings.
I have also started to enjoy exercising outside – whether it’s running or having long chats with my friends on the phone as I walk. And if I’m not feeling so energetic, I sit on the beach and read with the calming sound of the sea in the background.
What is it about the water? I think it’s a combination of things. The seafront is a shared space for everybody and I love to people watch down there - the town feels buzzy and it helps lift my spirits. There’s always something to see: the sun setting; a group of paddle boarders enjoying an evening out on a calm tide; ships moving in and out from the Thames making me wonder about the long journey ahead or behind them. It helps me leave my busy life behind and get lost in my own thoughts as I stare across the estuary.
All my favourite pastimes are enhanced when I am by the sea and I know now that I need the sea for my mental, as well as my physical, wellbeing.
Being by the sea has helped me appreciate the value of being alone – but not lonely- and now I rely on that time and space every day to de-stress, no matter what the weather.
It lifts my mood and gives me a sense of perspective, I feel connected and part of something much bigger through our rivers, our seas and our ocean.
For those of you who are not able to live by the sea, I recommend this fantastic playlist curated by the Marine CoLABoration. The sounds were recorded on the coast of Cornwall and really do transport you. You can play and download the ocean playlist at www.mixcloud.com/oneoceanfm.
I truly believe that wherever you are, whatever you are doing you can benefit by listening to the sound of the sea.