This article originally appeared on SouthernLiving.com.
If you’re looking for an excuse to play hooky, don’t forget that science has proven that a day at the beach is downright good for you.
Last year, researchers from New Zealand and Michigan teamed up on a study that revealed that exposure to “visible blue spaces” (read: the Gulf Coast on a nice day) can lower “psychological distress”.
To reach the conclusion that undoubtedly caused a thousand “sick” days, the researchers mapped the New Zealand city of Wellington and then compared the country’s health records with ocean views and those people who spent time watching the ocean waves were generally less stressed out. Even after the researchers took into account factors like age, sex, and wealth, living by the sea still improved people’s mental health. According to one of the co-authors, the reason for that is that the brain simply processes natural backdrops better. “[That] reduces sensory stimuli and promotes mental relaxation,” she told Lonely Planet. “Surely mental relaxation is part of the purpose of travel and holidays.”
The best part of the study is that it appears that the mental health benefits of staring into the ocean can be almost immediate, so even if you can’t skip a whole day of work, you can still reap the benefits by swinging by the water during your commute or, say, while eating fried oysters at Doc’s Seafood Shack in Gulf Shores or snacking on hushpuppies at Lee’s Inlet Kitchen in South Carolina.
Luckily the South has many places to indulge in a little, ahem, scientific research from Key West to the Outer Banks to Galveston, Texas. Start planning your trip now—doctor’s orders!