Wellbeing books: the best nature titles to improve your mental and physical health
Research increasingly shows that we humans have become disconnected from the natural world around us – and it's not good for our health. But we can improve our mental and physical wellbeing by getting closer to wildlife and wild places. These six books are a fantastic place to start
Modern life is tough – the whirl of modern technology, social media and news cycles can leave us bewildered and anxious. We’re often increasingly disconnected from the natural world that is itself threatened by climate change and other dangers. All of this can be deeply unsettling.
But help is at hand. New research shows that spending more time in nature and getting closer to wildlife can have major benefits for our mental and physical health, creativity and sense of peace. These following six books are a great starting point for anyone wanting to explore the benefits of the outdoors and nature. From personal journeys of discovery and mindfulness to examinations of the latest scientific research, these books offer comfort, solace and practical advice that together can make a huge difference to your life.
And find out more about our walks and days out you can do to help improve your mental and physical health with our round-up of 40 wellbeing and nature walks. Our A-Z of Mindfulness also offers simple activities to get you those crucial steps closer to nature and find peace and happiness.
The best nature books to help you improve mental and physical health
Six highly recommended reads to help you reconnect with nature and find happiness and health.
by Richard Mabey
Mabey chronicles how a move to Norfolk and a reawakening to the wildlife around him helped him overcome severe depression and start writing again. A very honest and personal account of the onset of declining mental health but also a slow but clear pathway into the light again – as Mabey discovers the nature and natural lore of his new home, and finds new love, too. The book also gently champions the value of greener living not just for the obvious environmental benefit but for the contentment and mindfulness it brings.
The Wild Remedy
by Emma Mitchell
Why leaving office life for the country – and keeping a detailed nature diary of daily wild finds – can help us cope with everyday mental health issues. Mitchell is an artist and her beautifully illustrated diary is a joyful celebration of the wildlife and wild treasures she has found around her home in Cambridgeshire. With great candour and wit, she reveals her struggles with depression – which she calls “the grey slug” – but reveals how following local paths into the landscape beyond and immersing herself in nature offers the most effective treatment.
by Lucy Jones
Subtitled ‘why our minds needs the wild’, Jones explores how so many of us have become disconnected with the natural world and the problems this can cause for our mental and physical health. Scouring new research from across the globe, Jones reveals the hard science to back up what many had assumed – that being out in nature, spending time outdoors and absorbing our surroundings offers key and measureable benefits to our happiness and wellbeing.
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In the Country
by Kenneth Allsop
A beautiful exploration of the landscapes, people and wildlife of Allsop’s Dorset home and the value of it for dealing with chronic pain. Allsop had served in the RAF in World War 2 and lost a leg during training – which left him in constant pain. He reveals how his contact with wildlife helped him cope.
Allsop later became a BBC broadcaster and author but as a naturalist in the 1960s and 70s he recognised many of the environmental issues that have become urgent problems today – from loss of habitats to climate change. Yet though these serious themes are woven into this lovingly written diary, it is his acute and beautiful observations of the common nature around his home that offer such a soothing read.
- Buy now from Little Toller Books (RRP from £12)
by Joe Harkness
After suffering a breakdown in 2013, Harkness tried many forms of medication and mindful activities to get back on his feet. But it was nature – and birds in particular – that provided the true healing. He began to find that birding – and the adventures that go with looking for bird species in the UK – helped him cope with his anxieties by offering something outside of his everyday experience but also a consistent goal. Inspiring but also very practical for anyone struggling to cope with the challenges of modern life.
- Buy now from RSPB (RRP from £9.99)
The Mindful Walker
by Alex E Strauss
By just committing a few minutes each day to walking and exploring the paths from your front door, science writer and certified Natural Mindfulness Coach Alex Strauss reveals how you can get into better mental and physical shape – and feel more joy as well as more compassion to your fellow humans. Learn how a closer connection with nature can help you think more clearly and creatively.
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