2 Wholesome Mental Health Benefits Of Solar Eclipses

The sun and moon's rendezvous has a serendipitous effect on our emotional well-being.

Mark Travers, Ph.D.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | April 16, 2024

On April 8, 2024, parts of the United States, Mexico and Canada experienced a total solar eclipse. A 2022 study examining the social effects of the solar eclipse in 2017 found that such large-scale celestial events influence human behavior and mental well-being in intriguing ways.

Here are two mental health benefits of viewing solar eclipses, based on the study.

1. Eclipses Are Awe-Inspiring

Researchers found that those who were in the eclipse's path of totality, rather than outside of it, experienced more awe.

Awe is an emotional response that involves feeling a sense of wonder, amazement and reverence when encountering something vast and extraordinary. It typically occurs when individuals are confronted with something larger than themselves or something that challenges their existing understanding of the world.

"Awe is perhaps the prototypical emotion triggered by rare, wholly immersive and visually arresting celestial events, such as a solar eclipse," the researchers explain.

A 2022 study found that positive awe experiences such as connectedness to nature improve well-being. Experiencing awe can also significantly reduce stress and somatic health symptoms and encourage individuals to focus less on material concerns and more on meaningful experiences, leading to greater fulfillment.

Furthermore, awe-inducing experiences strongly anchor individuals to the present moment. This heightened state of mindfulness can reduce rumination and worrying about the past or future, leading to a calmer and more centered state of mind.

Here are a few ways to make the most of these mental health benefits.

  • Savor the moment. During the solar eclipse, those who mindfully experienced the moment benefited the most. Observing the changing light, the sounds around you and the reactions of others makes you feel like a part of a larger narrative. Engaging your senses can deepen the impact of the experience and enhance feelings of awe.
  • Reflect on your experience. Take time to reflect on the personal significance of the solar eclipse. Consider the vastness of the universe, the beauty of nature and your place within it.
  • Integrate awe into daily life. Seek out other opportunities for awe-inspiring experiences in your everyday life. Spend time in nature, visit art museums, attend concerts or explore new places.
  • Practice gratitude. Take a moment to express gratitude for the opportunity to witness something extraordinary. Gratitude can amplify the positive effects of awe, contributing to a more optimistic outlook on life.

2. Eclipses Enhance Social Connection

Research shows that one in 10 Americans struggle with loneliness everyday. Researchers of the 2022 study suggest that fascinating events like a solar eclipse are vital reminders of the grandeur, complexity and interconnectedness of the universe and the human experience.

The authors found that participants who exhibited more awe in response to the solar eclipse became less self-focused and displayed more prosocial and affiliative behavior, humility and feelings of oneness with others compared to pre-eclipse levels.

Being in the presence of something larger or greater than oneself can create a diminished sense of self-importance and encourage us to tap into the power of shared experiences as a collective species, which aid in the fight against loneliness. Such events foster stronger connections with one's community, humanity and the universe itself, creating a sense of interpersonal trust, shared meaning and social cooperation.

Research shows that awe-inspiring events also help individuals tap into their "quiet ego state," where one can consider their own well-being as well as that of others, stay mindful of their emotional experiences without becoming overwhelmed, understand diverse viewpoints without judgment and prioritize an interconnected worldview and a mindset of personal growth.

The quiet ego state is in turn associated with optimal psychological well-being, greater resilience, authenticity and improved social relationships.

"Just as the moon aligned with the sun up in the heavens, people down on earth aligned with each other in awe of this spectacular celestial event," the researchers reminisce.

Those who watched the solar eclipse with others—friends, family or fellow enthusiasts—were probably able to tap into these feelings of interconnectedness most deeply. Keep discussing your thoughts and feelings with others afterward to deepen the experience.

Solar eclipses are not only a visual spectacle of a rare cosmic event but an opportunity to pause, reflect and be humbled by the vastness and beauty of the universe.

Feeling like a whole new person since the solar eclipse? You might score high on this personality trait: Openness To Experience Scale

A similar version of this article can also be found on, here.

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