We all know just how romantic, inspiring and utterly Instagram-able they could be, but most of us only make time for sunsets when we’re on vacation, as if that calming, beautiful moment can only just occur when we’re within an exotic place, clear of everyday obligations.
But — newsflash — the sun sets each day, wherever you are. And with the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, the sunset is now a growing number of accessible, and an easy, free way to infuse some wonder and awe into the regular routine.
Here’s why you should consider making time to watch the sun set:
1. It can slow down time.
2. & 3. It doesn’t take long and it forces you outside.
Even if you have to go back to the office once you watch that last sliver disappear below the skyline, going for a few minutes out of your day to experience some of the golden hour will be worth it. Just a 20-minute dose of oxygen promotes a sense of vitality, according to several studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
4. It allows you to multitask in a wholesome way.
sunset park bench
You can take in the sunset in a variety of ways: while running, walking, biking or simply observing. The mental benefits associated with the former three are well known — exercise, naturally, has been shown to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress — but merely sitting and observing the sunset also gives you a health boost: the opportunity to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness, according to a Perspectives on Psychological Science study, is “the nonjudgmental knowing of experiences in our moment” and has been proven to have significant psychological and physical benefits, including stress reduction and improved cognitive functioning. What better way to practice being conscious of the present moment than by watching the literal duration of time as the sun sinks below the horizon?
5. It will force you to put your phone down.
When we relegate the experience of sunsets to vacations and special occasions, we feel the urge to document, capture and save them — as though hoarding photos of these majesty will help us remember that wondrous feeling. But if you experience the sunset more regularly, you’ll no more feel compelled to see it by way of a screen. (Besides, your Instagram followers would never indicate the repetition!)
In her new book, “Thrive,” president and editor-in-chief in the Huffington Post Media Group Arianna Huffington warns an over-reliance on technology can cause us to miss as soon as. “Even the good occasions that celebrate us, we are hardly there to take pleasure from it,” she recently told Barbara Walters. By watching the sunset rather than your screens, you’ll give the human brain the chance to recharge and recover.
6. It will help you appreciate life’s gifts.
People around the world are drawn to sunsets, but a few special places have really embraced the sunset as an everyday opportunity to give thanks. In places like Santorini, Greece, and Maui, Hawaii, the sunset is undoubtedly a nightly celebration. Crowds gather to cheer and applaud it, reinforcing the idea we should celebrate and be thankful for every day.
Being mindful of all the things you have to be thankful for can boost your well-being, research suggests. Studies demonstrate that practicing gratitude is associated with a sense of overall gladness, improved sleep and even increased patience.
7. It will inspire you.
There’s a reason sunsets are timeless and frequent standbys of poets, writers and romantics — they’re inspiring.