If you’re feeling stressed—and research shows there’s a good chance you are—it might be time to head east.
According to the latest Canadian Community Health Survey, which was released by Statistics Canada last week, stress levels in all four Atlantic Provinces—Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick—are below the national average. The two provinces with the lowest stress levels? P.E.I. and Newfoundland, and Labrador.
For cottagers, it’s likely no surprise that being on an island would lead to lower stress levels. After all, there’s a reason we head to the water’s edge when we need to wind down. Our attraction to water is no coincidence—time and time again, studies have proven that people are happier and healthier when they’re closer to the water, whether that’s the ocean, a river, or even a bathtub.
Although “green” environments can sometimes have a positive effect on self-esteem and mood, researchers have found that settings with open water actually produce significantly larger improvements in mental well-being. In fact, a study based in Ireland found that people living within five kilometres of a coast were more satisfied with their lives, even when other factors were controlled.
This, combined with the overall slower pace that’s typically associated with island life, could certainly play a role in the reduced stress levels, although it’s merely speculation—exactly why people are less stressed in Newfoundland and P.E.I. wasn’t studied. It is worth considering, though, because many Canadians need to relax. According to a report by CBC News, the survey asked Canadians if they perceived most days in their life to be “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful, and more than one in five people said yes.