When “outside” is just something to pass through on the way to someplace else, it’s time to slow down and take stock. That’s the advice from new books that propose a nature-cure approach to wellness.
“People must feel linked to their natural environment and the other living things in it, to not only survive but to thrive,” writes Sally Coulthard in Biophilia. “It’s a fundamental part of who we are.”
Here, we round up titles that speak to nature lovers, confirmed urban dwellers, and everyone in between.
21 Rituals to Connect with Nature
The latest entry in Cheung’s 21 Rituals series is aimed at indoor types, given that the outdoorsy don’t need a habit-forming introduction to nature. Where Cheung says “ritual,” others might say “mindfulness exercise”—becoming aware of one’s breath, or offering thanks. Cheung’s three-week plan begins with rituals that may be performed indoors before progressing to wilder locales.
Coulthard explores ways to harmonize home and the natural word. She covers proper lighting, temperature, and airflow; decorating with natural materials; beneficial colors and patterns, and more. The book takes its title from psychologist Edward O. Wilson’s 1984 treatise of the same name, which proposed that people have an innate drive to connect with nature.
A close relative of hygge, the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv (“free life air,” or open-air living) seeks a similar appreciation of small moments. But where hygge emphasizes cozy candles, sweaters, and reading nooks, friluftsliv embraces the simple pleasures found outdoors. Delorie has trod this green ground before, Japanese-style, in 2018’s Shinrin-Yoku: The Healing Art of Forest Bathing.
Winn, a landscape designer whose Whimsical Gardens Facebook page has 607,000 followers, shares how, after her husband of 25 years asked for a divorce, she found solace in a new spiritual practice, new love, and her garden. Her memoir offers lessons from the natural world—an abandoned baby possum, a spider that won’t leave her web—in surviving loss and trauma, and choosing optimism.
The Well-Gardened Mind
Psychiatrist and avid gardener Stuart-Smith suggests that the act of tending the earth with rigor, intention, and discipline changes human cognition and offers antidepressant effects. She draws on an array of experiences, including those of her patients, her WWI veteran grandfather, participants in Rikers Island’s gardening program, and Sigmund Freud, who was passionate about flowers.