COASTING TO BETTER MENTAL HEALTH

Published 24 May 2021

cromerPerhaps it is the fact that so many of us have experienced emotions such as fear, isolation, uncertainty and sadness during the long months of lockdown, but somehow Mental Health Awareness Week, which took place last week in the UK, had a more ‘mainstream’ feel to it this year. 

Whilst the increase in the number of people facing mental health challenges is far from welcome, the fact that we are all much more willing and able to talk about the issue is a positive.

Where we live, and the lifestyle which comes with that choice, has a huge influence on our emotional wellbeing. Being part of a strong community, being close to nature, feeling settled and secure, having space to think and relax: these are all things which relate directly to improved mental health.

Often it takes a seismic event to make us stop and reflect on our lives. For many of us, the Covid pandemic has been that event. It is becoming very clear that lockdown, and the increased sense of our own mortality which a close brush with a global pandemic inevitably brought, caused many to take a long, hard look at their lives – and the ‘flight’ instinct has been very strong. 

Which is why areas such as the north Norfolk coast, offering a high quality of life, nature and space, and a stronger sense of community, are featuring high on the list of those seeking to escape from their former high-stress lives in the capital.

This isn’t something entirely new. Since Victorian times, the popularity of the coast and the healing properties of fresh air has drawn city dwellers, seeking the many health benefits for both mind and body. In those days, the seaside was the destination of choice for long periods of convalescence, summer holidays and, in some cases, retirement.  

However, the technological revolution of the last couple of decades has made it possible for people to live permanently in the most extreme locations of the country, and still perform as if they were sitting in their city office. 

The working-from-home revolution we have seen in the past year has helped people realise that our aspirations to have a more fulfilling home life for ourselves as well as for our children and families can indeed be realised alongside a successful and satisfying career. 

Small wonder, then, that three is such huge demand for homes on the north Norfolk coast. Here you will find air which is charged with negative ions, improving the absorption of oxygen, promoting better sleep, mood improvement and decreasing stress. Here you will find sunshine boosting levels of vitamin D, crucial in improving the immune system (no surprise that the north Norfolk coast had one of the lowest recorded levels of coronavirus).

Here also you will find hundreds of miles of free walks, where communing with nature – a critical factor in supporting good mental health, according to the Mental Health Foundation – is easy.

And most importantly, here you will find vibrant and close-knit communities, where people live amongst like-minded people, all living their best lives with the same values and qualities in common.

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Jan Hytch

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