Watching the Sunrise/Sunset Is Good for Your Health, Scientists Say

Even if we don’t know the complete science behind all of it (we’re constantly learning more, though), we all can sense that there’s just something about nature that does a body good — which is why so many people advocate going for walks outdoors, getting fresh air, and hanging around trees more often.

Now a new study has given scientific backing to watching sunrises or sunsets as a method of oneself feel much better, especially when feeling down.

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the authors heavily suggested that viewing either a sunrise or a sunset promoted a rise in sensations of awe, owing to an increase in perceptions of natural beauty.

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The authors also believe that as a consequence, these sensations of awe can lead one to experience an improved mood, better social behavior, and have overall better emotional wellbeing.

This was all concluded after the team used fairly recent computer graphics technology to display images of urban and natural environments to over 2,500 participants. During this period of surveying, a majority from the group agreed that a shot was considered more beautiful whenever a scene contained a visual of a sunrise or a sunset — considerably more “beautiful” than the same scenes without them.

It was then that the team also noticed these images containing sunrises and sunsets were able to trigger increases in feelings of awe in these participants.

Additionally, the team also used images of other phenomena such as rainbows, moonlit skies, and thunderstorms to see how perceptions were different when compared against scenes during the day with clear blue skies.

But when quizzed, these participants crucially admitted that they were willing to pay extra just to see some of these settings — especially those with more permanent scenic features like historical structures or large lakes — at sunrise, as opposed to during the middle of the day.

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Ultimately, the invocation of these feel-good sensations in individuals has spurred the research team to encourage people to go ahead and experience more sunrises and sunsets, and they have even suggested such activities as part of therapy modes where experiencing more natural elements can boost mental health.

“We’re all familiar with the urge to take a photo of a brilliant sunset or unexpected rainbow. The term ‘sunset’ has over 300 tags on Instagram and people told us they’d be willing to pay a premium to experience these phenomena, but of course, we can experience them for free,” said Alex Smalley, a PhD fellow at the University of Exeter and the study’s lead author.

“Our research indicates that getting up a bit earlier for sunrise or timing a walk to catch the sunset could be well worth the effort — the ‘wow’ factor associated with these encounters might unlock small but significant bumps in feelings of beauty and awe, which could in turn have positive impacts for mental wellbeing.”

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