"I'm trying to encourage my children to appreciate things in life that are free.
That make you feel good.
That not everything... has to have a value that's monetary.
And this happens to be something that's there every day.
That for a few moments you can go 'wow, that's pretty amazing'.
I don't even know how that happens... but it's happening.”
- Cielo, Skychology research participant
What do we experience when we look up at the sky?
And what role does the sky play in our experience of wellbeing?
Against a backdrop of unprecedented global urbanisation, the associated chronic decline of our connection with nature, and the unfolding impact of the covid-19 global pandemic, the answers to these questions matter.
Research has neglected the human experience of looking up at the sky, and the role the sky plays in our experience of wellbeing, hence the creation of "Skychology", our new area of wellbeing research, defined as:
"scientific endeavours to understand and operationalise interactions with the sky to enhance wellbeing" (Conway & Hefferon, 2019).
In the first study of its kind, four participants shared their experiences of looking up at the sky during in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Their experiences suggest looking up at the sky has the potential to be an effective wellbeing activity.
Summary of findings
Looking up at the sky:
1. Is immediately calming
2. Appears to promote psychological & physiological wellbeing
3. May be a highly effective form of emotional self-regulation
4. Appears to facilitate mindfulness by being present in the moment, experienced as feeling a greater sense of clarity & perspective towards immediate life challenges
5. Promotes a greater sense of connectedness and feeling part of a "bigger picture"
6. Appears to be an everyday window to the experience of "awe" - a complex psychological construct positively associated with wellbeing, perspective-taking, humility, creativity & prosocial behaviour
7. Appears to negate the effects of "hedonic adaptation" (Lyubomirsky & Layous, 2013). Looking at the sky, it seems, never gets old, suggesting we can enjoy its wellbeing benefits throughout our lives.
The results of the study suggest looking up at the sky is an effective, everyday psychological and physiological wellbeing activity, with the potential to positively impact lives all across the world.
Here's a quick & easy Skychology activity for you to try (opens in Instagram)
We'll be adding more Skychology activities to the website soon, so be sure to check back often.