It’s time you got outside. Here’s how to make the most of it.
You need to get out more. Our gradual retreat away from the Great Outdoors to the Comfy Indoors is having an impact on people’s mental health that makes for uncomfortable reading. Nature it seems is a free, easy and breezy solution to the growing weight of anxiety and depression.
According to Harvard University, it’s not entirely clear why your time outside has such a positive impact. But one study found that just 90 minutes spent in a natural setting, rather than an urban one, was enough to reduce activity in people’s prefrontal cortex – the area of your brain prone to repetitive thoughts focusing on negative emotions.
Pick up these books, each written to help you reconnect with this ultimate natural salve for your mental wellbeing.
This rigorously researched book takes a scientific look at the impact better connecting with nature can have on your overall health. The story walks you through all the latest thinking, from the emergence of forest schools in East London to Californian laboratories and the sofas of Avant Garde eco-therapists. The mission here is not just to save the planet but to save ourselves in the process.
Four years after she says her mind simply stopped working and she fell into a deep depression, Hardman has emerged stronger and ready to present her tools to help those also struggling find their own route to better mental health. She credits her health to exercise, nature and the great outdoors – from a newfound passion for botany to cold-water swimming. and running. Hardman mixes her own personal experience with interviews with mental illness sufferers and psychologists to examine the role wildlife and exercise can play in protecting your mental health.
Mitchell’s hand-illustrated diary takes you around the paths and trails near her home and further afield, sharing her nature finds and tracking the lives of local flora and fauna over the course of a year. Crucially, these are the interactions with nature that saved her mental health, after she chose to leave the stresses of city life behind and find peace in nature. Reflecting on how these encounters impact her mood, she calls for new research into forest bathing and our innate urge to be among leafy things. Mitchell’s own beautiful drawings, paintings and photography are posted throughout to make this book much more than a simple page-turner.
‘The wisest book I’ve read for many years … Much more than a gardening book, much more than a guide to mental health … Hugely recommended’ Stephen Fry. Well, that’s a fairly impressive endorsement, we’re sure you’ll agree. In a powerful combination of contemporary neuroscience, psychoanalysis and brilliant storytelling, The Well Gardened Mind investigates the magic that many gardeners have known for years – working with nature can radically transform our health, wellbeing and confidence.
The premise behind the book is simple and a little different: “Now you don’t see it, now you do.” Rather than plot an escape to the countryside, this book aims to help you reconnect with the wildlife around you, even if you reside in the urban jungle. If you listen to Barnes, this book suggests, you’ll discover a world of creatures within hand’s reach that you never even knew were there. And soon, you’ll feel part of their world too.