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Want a well-being boost? Try watching a sunrise or sunset

Photo: Jose Martinez Calderon/iStockphoto

The awe inspired by a beautiful sunrise or sunset may help improve your overall well-being, researchers from England’s Exeter University say.

The researchers recruited more than 2,500 adults for an online study. The volunteers looked at and rated images of urban and natural environments that featured sunrises, sunsets, thunderstorms, rainbows, blue skies and starry skies. Results show that they considered an image more beautiful when it was taken at sunrise or sunset than when it was taken during other parts of the day.

“We’re all familiar with the urge to take a photo of a brilliant sunset or unexpected rainbow,” said Alex Smalley, lead study author and a doctoral fellow at the university. “Our research indicates that getting up a bit earlier for sunrise or timing a walk to catch 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 well-being.”


The researchers say encouraging people to experience sunrises and sunsets could be a therapeutic part of mental health treatment. Their study was published online in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

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