What are Awe Walks?

A Healthier Michigan

| 3 min read

An awe walk is a hike or walk focused on enjoying and taking part in the natural world around you. To take part in awe walking, all that is needed is to focus on the world around you and the awe-inspiring aspects of nature while you walk, rather than focusing internally or on your own thoughts.

What is needed for an awe walk?

Breathtaking views are always a bonus for outdoor hikes, but awe can be inspired by smaller wonders of nature as well, such as blooming flowers, buzzing insects, moving water or wind in the trees. Focusing and appreciating these more common but awesome elements of nature can be as healing as a grand landscape to hike in, according to the University of Arizona. Focus on texture, patterns, sounds, rhythms, and smells found in nature.
Be prepared to take a walk outdoors by knowing the area you’re walking in, being aware ahead of time of weather conditions, have a way to contact others in an emergency, let someone know where you’re going if you are walking alone, and have plenty of water and sun protection for yourself. You should also try to clear your mind to focus on the natural environment around you to fully implement the ideas of an awe walk.

What is the goal of awe walking?

Awe walks are meant to alleviate stress, connect yourself with nature, and instill thoughts of thankfulness and joy, according to Harvard Medical School. Choose a place to walk that either has physical vastness or novelty to better focus your attention and seek awe in nature. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the Rockies or the Grand Canyon. Even urban walks with exciting or novel features or architecture can inspire awe according to the University of California Berkeley. By focusing on the possibilities of seeing something incredible in nature or on your daily walk, you can find awe-inspiring happenings and visuals all around you.

Benefits of awe walks 

The more awe you get inspired by walking in nature, the more likely you will be to appreciate awesome things and awe-inspiring features of nature in future walks. This can be a benefit for future nature walks or awe walks or help to appreciate “little things” of wonder in your day. According to a 2022 study, other benefits from taking focused awe walks may include:
  • better breathing patterns
  • improved feelings of joy, gratitude and compassion
  • decreased feelings of sadness and fear
  • better control over directing thoughts and emotions
  • overall improved sense of well-being
Walking in nature, even without the instructed focus on seeking awe, also can have multiple benefits on the body and mind:
  • reduced stress and anxiety 
  • improved sleep quality 
  • reduced fatigue 
  • improved productivity and creativity 
  • improved heart and lung health

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