Inside: Ever felt stressed, anxious, or disconnected from loved ones? Here’s how to make time slow down if even just for a moment. Experiences of wonder and awe may be just the ticket you need.
Were we crazy taking a toddler in a car for this distance? Probably.
How were we going to keep him occupied? Lots of toys? Ugh.
What were we going to do if things didn’t go as planned? Breathe and keep going?
We’d only driven 500 miles of our planned 5,000-mile road trip. You see, I’m a planner. We laid out this trip for months beforehand.
My husband drew the routes we’d take on the maps. I created and packed snacks and meals that didn’t require refrigeration. We both discussed what types of places we’d like to see. Team effort for the win.
But we knew this trip was going to test our patience no matter what. It’s just the nature of travel, especially with a little one.
While stress comes in all forms, you must still be ready for it. No matter how well-planned you think you are, something will come up.
The more tools you have in your toolbox to deal with the stress, anxiety or disconnection, the better you’ll find yourself dealing when situations arise.
Want to know how to reduce your stress or disconnection? Keep reading.
A tool I’ve found to help with reducing stress, especially when traveling, is by planning experiences for the family. These experiences tend to lend themselves to feelings of wonder and awe.
Scientists recently studied the concept of awe and how it relates to our well-being.
Awe isn’t this elusive emotion that’s reserved for once-in-a-lifetime events. We can increase happiness and reduce stress by simply keeping our eyes open every day.
Here’s Our Story of Wonder and Awe
We just arrived at our first planned stop on this leg of the journey.
“Your voice will echo and travel for miles down here. So, it’s very important to whisper every step of the way.”
These were the words the Ranger spoke to our then 3 ½-year-old.
We were riding the elevator down into Carlsbad Caverns rather than walking the miles of trails to get to the bigger cavern rooms. We didn’t think our little guy’s legs could make it that far.
Who wants to hear a reverberating scream coming from a toddler when they’re tired of walking? Am I right? Riding the elevator down was for the sanity of us all.
He never complained though and never whined. But what he did do astounded us.
Our 3 ½-year-old whispered the ENTIRE way through Carlsbad Caverns. He was in wonder and awe of everything his little eyes and mind were absorbing.
Although he wasn’t the only one who stood slack-jawed in wonder and awe at the intricate details and deadly spikes staring down at us.
From the fresh chill in the air to the smell of earth to the faint sound of water dripping, it was the most amazing sight I had ever seen.
This unassuming cave hundreds of miles below the surface was causing me to see the world differently.
The slight stress and anxiety I had been feeling about being in the car for 8 hours, combined with the idea of taking a toddler into a cave where it’s quiet, and the worry about the slippery paths all vanished as I soaked in everything around us.
So here’s the good news!
Research shows that experiencing wonder and awe has health benefits beyond just taking our breath away.
What are Wonder and Awe?
According to Merriam-Webster, awe’s definition is “a strong feeling of fear or respect and also wonder.” You’ll often times see the word awe along with “inspiring,” as in “awe-inspiring.”
Wonder and awe change our perspective of the world around us and the thoughts we have about the size and power of something.
Just think about the night sky for a moment. Those stars and planets are billions upon billions of years old, and we’re still seeing them every single night.
For instance, take a moment to stargaze and watch for shooting stars or satellites. Did you know the satellites we see streak across the sky are several hundreds of miles from the surface of Earth and traveling about 250-300 miles per hour?
If you said, “Wow!” to the above facts, that’s wonder and awe.
Can you believe most of us experience wonder and awe on average 2 ½ times per week?
Yet would you recognize it if you experienced it?
Wonder and awe could be something as little as noticing a hummingbird hover above a flower, enjoying a museum with historical artifacts, or watching your littlest give his big brother a hug.
Why Experience Wonder and Awe?
Besides changing our outlook on the world, awe has several other benefits for our overall wellness.
Health benefits include:
- Reduces chronic inflammation
- Lowers blood pressure
- Creates a stronger immune system
- Reduces anxiety and depression
As if those health benefits aren’t enough, here are other personal benefits:
- Brings us into the present moment
- Bonds us to others and gets us out of ourselves
- Increases feelings of kindness and generosity
- Stimulates our creativity and curiosity
If these are just the benefits from an awesome experience, I think wonder and awe need to be in my life on a daily basis. What about you?
But I bet you’re thinking, “How do I fit in these moments with an already packed schedule?”
I hear you.
Though none of us is promised tomorrow and have never-ending to-do lists, spending time in wonder and awe can improve our health. Most of all we need to work on simplifying our lifestyle to create a life we love.None of us is promised tomorrow, and spending time in wonder and awe has several benefits for our well-being.Click To Tweet
Yet experiencing something with the ability to transform our health and happiness doesn’t have to be complicated.
The power of awe doesn’t have to cost a penny either. You can encounter it:
- in your own backyard
- by looking at pictures that inspire you
- spending time in nature
- listening to your favorite song
Imagine the possibilities if society as a whole sought ways to add more wonder and awe to their daily lives.
Seems like society would definitely improve. We’d be less stressed, more content, and more generous to others.
Watching my boys enjoy experiences for the first time with their child-like wonder causes my heart to swell. This bonds us together. Disconnection disappears and stress leaves when we simply keep our eyes open.
Need some more ideas to help you experience the benefits of wonder and awe?
These printable cards will help you enjoy awe on a daily basis. Grab 1, 3 or 5 cards and relish just a few minutes of relaxation and connection with others or the world around you.
- Click the button below to grab your free wonder and awe cards, plus join my newsletter!
- Print out the cards on cardstock. This will help them last longer.
- Hang them in a place where the whole family can use them or cut them apart to carry with you. We all need visual reminders.
Now It’s Your Turn
What’s one way you could help yourself or even your family experience a moment of wonder and awe?
Share your ideas in the comments below.
I’d also love to hear about any amazing places you’ve seen around the world. We’re always trying to add to our bucket list.