For as long as I can remember I’ve woken up early- earlier than most people. This meant that in between rushing about getting ready for school, reading or listening to music I would occasionally see the sunrise. It was a beautiful sight, I often thought to myself, but nothing worth watching out for- until a few months ago.
During the beginning of lockdown, I immediately started to notice the incredible colours seemingly leaking from the sky. These intense purples and soft pinks mixing together. It was surreal. I quickly found myself getting up to watch the sunrise or pausing the TV to look at the setting sun. It wasn’t long before it became a sort of hobby and the initial disbelief that this was happening in London settled down.
The second phase of sky watching began when I captured my first sunset using my phone. The photo is pictured below:
I found that lockdown provided me with a lot of spare time, a fresh outlook on life and an opportunity to slow things down: allowing me and many others to pursue more hobbies and interests. I started painting, dancing and writing more but nothing felt as freeing and therapeutic as watching the sun emerge from orange-stained clouds.
On my return to school and “normal life”, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the time to observe these occurrences any more and I didn’t want to put it in a schedule as I feel like something so freeing should come naturally. To my surprise, the sun greets me every morning when I leave my house and after school when I return home from my commute. After sharing my passion with a few friends I was shocked to find out that barely anyone looked at the sky and that inspired my to write this article, to share the passion of watching the clouds, sun and moon.
Especially during the winter months a lot of people suffer from SAD- seasonal affective disorder. It is when the change of seasons affects a person’s mood and can lead to depression. Waking up to the sun in the morning can help to ease the effect of SAD as the sunshine can remind us of summer and its beauty has an uplifting effect.
Another reason to watch the sunrise is that it requires us to wake up early. There is a multitude of health benefits associated with waking up early: such as an improved sleep schedule, reduction of stress due to an increased probability of arriving on time to work and school and giving your body and mind a chance to “wake up” before you go out into the world. For those who enjoy activities such as Yoga doing the sun salutation can be an empowering and incredibly refreshing experience. The sun rises at approximately 7:40 in London, so this is a highly accessible time for students and some working professionals.
As for watching the sunset, from personal experience, I can affirm that it relaxes and lulls me to sleep. In other words, it gets you in the mood for bed. It’s also a nice opportunity to put away the phone and prevent exposure to blue light before sleeping: this has been known to improve quality of sleep and production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
Being able to watch these “unreal” things happen in the sky, just above us can fill us with a fresh sense of purpose and gratitude. I think most people can relate to the feeling that comes with seeing a full moon or a rainbow. Why don’t we experience that more? While seeing a rainbow is a somewhat rare experience and a full moon only occurs once every 28 days, I can assure you that the sun rises and falls every single day. So next time you find yourself with a few extra minutes on your hands in the morning or the evening, take a moment to have a look and to feel special because you deserve it.
– Tiffany, year 10
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY AUTHOR.