Allow us to set the scene for you. It’s the tail-end of a hard day, and you’ve been pushed to your limit with barely enough time to stop and smell the proverbial roses. As you begin to wind down for the evening, you take the chance to catch your breath, step outside, and whatever breath you just took is quickly taken away by the natural beauty of the sunset above.
Within seconds, you’re absolved of all stressors and subsequently bathed in the bliss that only the raw beauty of nature and the daily cosmic ballet can provide. Yes, you’ve just experienced the benefits of the sunset, the quotidian phenomenon which has enthralled and enchanted humanity since the dawn of time.
But why is this? Why do we feel this sense of bliss as we observe this stellar tradition? Surely by now we’d be used to the effects of a sunset, especially given the fact they are – be the very definition of the term – an everyday occurrence?
Well, it’s a little more convoluted than that, and with Kathmandu urging the world to improve their wellbeing with time spent outdoors, we’ve decided to take a look at the nature of sunsets and the myriad secrets that they hold.
But what sort of secrets do they hold? Do they hold any? At its core, a sunset is a simple ritual: the daily disappearance of the sun beyond the horizon as one day bleeds into the next. It’s a simple indicator of finality, with one day done and another soon to begin. However, its effects are as numerous as they are varied.
Think for a second about how your day is spent. Most likely, you’ve spent it staring at screens with very little mind paid to the world outside of your electronics. It also would follow that as we become more technologically-dependent, the rates of mental health problems have also increased, with some psychologists believing this may in fact be due to the lack of time spent soaking up sunlight.
As Healthline points out, exposure to sunlight in healthy quantities is a direct contributor to the increase of serotonin and melatonin, chemicals directly related to the boosting of mood and regulating sleep, respectively. Together, these chemicals are vital in helping to boost one’s mental health, with their combined increase a direct combatant toward seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD.
Add this to the increase of serotonin helping to decrease stress levels, and the benefits are obvious. As stress goes down, so too does empathy increase, we become more creative, and we are happier on the whole. Pair this with the task of venturing into nature in order to properly bask in the glorious light of the fading day, and it instantly becomes clear as to why hiking and nature walks are often advised as a method to combat depression.
But it’s not just the psychological side of things that benefits from the setting sun and its effects, with a noted direct physical effect also accompanying matters. For example, direct exposure to sunlight has been linked to increased vitamin D, which in turn reduces inflammation and promotes cell growth.
It also aids in the growth of stronger bones, lower blood pressure, and a healthy heart rate, meaning that when doctors may ask if you’re spending any time outside, they’re inquiring for good reason. And it doesn’t take much to be effective either, with just a minimal amount of time spent admiring the neutral beauty of the sun and its daily disappearance being beneficial to physical and mental health.
However, while doctors or psychologists might urge a little bit of twilight reflection as a key to building a better you, it’s important to also remember just how much better you can feel before the sunset even without its noted benefits.
After all, how wonderful does it feel to simply be selfish for a few hours and to allow yourself to escape from the drudgery of modern life and its myriad screens as you simply disappear into the natural beauty of the world to connect with the organic phenomena that surrounds us? Just think of the catharsis that pairs with the casual observance of a sunset and you’re swiftly reminded as to the importance of why you should take the time out of your day to simply take stock of the gorgeous beauty that surrounds you.
All things considered, maybe a bask in the sunset is doing you more good than you may have first thought. So the next time you decide to take some much-needed time out of your day in order to appreciate the natural phenomenon, feel free to unplug and unwind as you remind yourself you’re not just gaining some superficial satisfaction, but you’re physically improving yourself as you get back to nature.
Be sure to get in touch with nature and the beautiful secrets that it keeps, but ensure you’re well stocked for any occasion by heading to Kathmandu and checking out their latest new season gear, including hiking boots, socks, fleece jackets, and long and short-sleeve shirts.