Psychological Benefits of Owning a Cabin

By Sally Raymond

There are loads of reasons to buy a lakeside cabin. Relaxation, serenity, the joy of having a piece of paradise to call your own…but did you know that it can also have some serious benefits for your health and your work? Ok, there are the obvious factors – spending time by the lake is a great de-stressor, and it often involves living a much more physically active (and thus healthier) lifestyle than you usually would. This is all pretty good for you. However, the benefits of owning a lakeside cabin actually go a lot deeper – and it’s all to do with the way we’re programmed to think of water…

We’ve Evolved To Find The Sight Of Lakes Exciting

There’s a reason why we like sparkly things. We like them because they remind us of the sun glinting on water. Diamonds, glitter, the gleam of gold – all of these things which we enjoy (and to which we often ascribe vast values) have the effect that they do simply because the most deeply evolved parts of our brains get really excited when they see something which looks a bit like water. Why? Well, it’s fairly obvious when you think about it. Humans evolved in Africa, as hunter-gatherers, probably spending an awful lot of time loping through grasslands, in a hot climate. Most of the instinctual framework which we still carry today was in place before we developed the kind of higher cognitive abilities which would let us do things like invent containers for water. So, with water an intensely valuable resource, our evolving brains made sure to hardwire that value in on an instinctive level. The sparkle of sunlight on water instantly captures our attention, excites us, and makes us head towards the source of the gleam without really thinking about it. This is why we want to possess diamonds – it’s because the main source of that kind of sparkle in nature is water, and water is very important. Evolution tells us that this kind of thing is valuable, and we take evolution’s word for it (even when evolution’s judgement is slightly off!).

The Sight Of Water Soothes The Deepest Parts Of Our Brains

So far, so good. We find water pretty, and a pleasing sight, because it fulfils a deep evolutionary need. However, rationality generally kicks in before we actually bury our faces in lakes for a drink – so how far is our lake-loving programming of any use to us? Well, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that looking out over water calms and soothes us on a very deep level. Perhaps because the ancient drives to find resources like water are calmed when we’re looking at it, perhaps due to childhood associations, and perhaps due to these and a combination of other factors, we tend to find our minds clearer, calmer, and more able to focus when we’re looking out over (or listening to the sounds of) water. Businesses are increasingly taking this on board. Despite the potential extra costs of introducing water features into offices, or relocating to lakeside venues, CEOs increasingly accept that the stress-reduction and focus-enhancing powers of water are worth the added cost. Stress and lack of focus are major issues in the workplace, and have a big impact upon productivity. If work environments can be made less stressful, more focused, and generally happier places through the introduction of water-based features, the rewards tend to be greater than the outlay. From your own point of view, it makes a lot of sense to head to a lakeside cabin to write that magnum opus, work out some strategies, or simply take some much-needed downtime to effectively clear your head and prepare for your next steps.

Proximity To Water Makes You Healthier

Studies show that average health tends to decline the further one is from water. Studies carried out in Britain (where, in all fairness, nobody is very far from water as they’re a pretty small island!) demonstrate that average health tends to improve the closer people live to water. This study concentrated largely on the coast, but researchers did state that they believed the effects would probably be similar if they had studied proximity to lakes and other large bodies of water. Obviously, improvements in health tend to bring general improvements in the quality of one’s life along with them – so it’s more than worth investing in some lakeside real estate and watching your life take a consequent upturn!

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