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The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

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An intrepid investigation into nature’s restorative benefits by a prize-winning author.

For centuries, poets and philosophers extolled the benefits of a walk in the woods: Beethoven drew inspiration from rocks and trees; Wordsworth composed while tromping over the heath; Nikola Tesla conceived the electric motor while visiting a park. Intrigued by our storied renewal in the natural world, Florence Williams sets out to uncover the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain.

From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to groves of eucalyptus in California, Williams investigates the science at the confluence of environment, mood, health, and creativity. Delving into completely new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and ultimately strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published February 7, 2017

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About the author

Florence Williams

3 books291 followers
Florence Williams is the author of Heartbreak, Breasts, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Nature Fix. A contributing editor at Outside magazine, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, and many other outlets. She lives in Washington, DC.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,506 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,852 followers
September 19, 2021
Seen from this point of view, the knowledge, traditions, and beliefs of indigenous peoples gain a new quality.

It would be interesting to know if the biodiversity of an environment is further enhancing the positive effect on one's health, whether natural space is not equal to another natural space and that a monoculture of spruce, a cornfield, etc. has less positive, for instance, healing and self regulatory, power than a varied area, in which different habitats and climatic zones are present, and that the variety reinforces the positive health effect and generates more joy and relaxation.

If one wants to interpret it esoterically, one could also assume that every living being from the fauna and flora has its unique characteristics and that their qualities for human health cannot be quantified because we do not yet begin to understand the mechanisms before we have exterminated most species and destroyed their habitats. But more variety and potential synergies may be, just intuitively, the best for all involved parties, because monotony and uniformity are contra-productive in many other areas too.

Precisely given the quantum phenomena in photosynthesis, the non-decyphered language of plants, the yet to be discovered micro-orders of microorganisms (nanobacteria, viruses, ...), it´s arrogant to reject any hypotheses. Given the phenomenal ignorance and lack of knowledge any explanation, more likely to be in the realm of fantasy, could be correct. I mean, look at gravity, black holes, quantum stuff, we freaking know nothing about the biggest and smallest parts of our reality, and old theories are collapsing like the credibility of American presidents.

What all together affects a person when she or he moves in natural areas, possibly even for a longer time when making camping trips or, like indigene peoples, is always in direct contact with nature for a lifetime, could offer new insights into how both genetics and epigenetics works. For instance, how this affects perception and cognitive abilities, the genome, socio cultural evolution, body mass index, etc. In contrast, in the modern world, humans are almost always in dead, artificial environment and if one imagined and visualized this scenario with recognizable radiations, the civilized Westerners would sit in shielded isolation chambers with millions of new, toxic chemicals inside and outside of them in fancy foods and consumerism trash products.

Nature deities and a consciousness existing in everything move into the realm of the possible when this aspect is included, especially the evil devil worship we are practicing at the moment with sacrificing the whole ecosystem with the sixth extinction
fueled by the greed of the lunatic neoliberal monster conglomerates, the most disturbing entities ever created by human beings. Think about that, an almighty US military industrial complex, or even Chinese state syndicate corporation is a kind of evil superintelligence just focused on growth at any cost, crushing anything in its way to more and more profit, like a parasite in the flesh of humankind and the planet. And they´ve just started sparring and flexing the muscles for their epic economic warfare battle that determines the future of human history, manipulating all other sockpuppet allied states just as they wish. It´s completely crazy, like as if an alpha predator had taken some acting lessons to become the herding dog and everyone in this Western fringe democracies is doing as if everything is nice, fine, and dandy and as if no competing global superpowers are cannibalizing the environment.

Back to positive aspects of nature, regarding creativity, in particular, this explains why many prodigies have revolutionary ideas, especially in natural environments and during their long, lonely walks. That could be further interpreted: simple plants on a thin layer of soil, garnished with one or the other more massive mammal and many little critters, have measurable effects on the human mind. When a historical invention is made that changes the course of human history forever, what is the proportion of the environment to even think and get the idea at first? What affects the biochemistry and neurochemistry of the brain to enable it to reach such heights? Where does the exact right combination of components, which act in just the Heureka moment, come from? Again, quantum, nano, and stuff.

And is it just a coincidence that in the right environment, the right person gets the right dose to get the right idea? Depending on personal preferences, this can be interpreted quite differently from a philosophical, metaphysical, computational, or scientific point of view.

And there are also the real sensory impressions, changing backgrounds, different angles, and millions of details that are a balm for the nervous nerve system and food for the brain at the same time.

The "forest bathing" in Japan or the "forest healing programs in Korea" are precursors to a new, long overdue symbiosis between humans and nature, primary examples of how productivity and creativity in education, work, and also in the private sector could be increased when one combines natural and living spaces. Until recently, that was not technologically feasible or too expensive but with the new, emerging technologies, green, living interiors, flowing transitions between natural spaces and living spaces, and a novel spatial and urban planning concept can be created. Not to speak of the positive effects on the quality of life, especially in metropolitan areas, just look at the megacities that got how important that is and grow green. A simple, ignored reason for the increased numbers of mental health problems in cities could be the lack of touch with nature because its absence is against a million-year co-evolution with and in natural environments.

The intertwining of biological topics with just about everything in the categories of Wikipedia shows how complex the matter is:

Many technologies are based on mechanisms that, in nature, are just integrated as simple subroutines in much more complicated types of machinery, those functions and meanings are minimally understood. Quantum, nano, yada yada yada. This includes only the biological component, without adding the physical ideas or even technology manipulating it, just imagine that. Like hypothetical, other dimensions affecting or interacting with the biology of one, like our, dimension. If something exists in 2, 3, or whatever number of places, dimensions, realities, parallel universes at the same time
and in the same place but is still separated by insuperable filters of reality and physics. And makes one happy and healthy.

A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real-life outside books:
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 9, 2020
4.5 stars
A surprisingly enjoyable journey into what it means to be healthy and happy.
we all need nearby nature: we benefit cognitively and psychologically from having trees, bodies of water, and green spaces just to look at; we should be smarter about landscaping our schools, hospitals, workplaces and neighborhoods so everyone gains.
So much of health and happiness in the "modern" world is found through non-natural means.

Sad? Here's a handful of pills.

Bored? Here's a screen and a controller.

Depressed? Exercise in a gym, plus more pills.

And yet, the more mankind has developed these catch-all cures...the further we stray from nature.

Florence Williams decides to go back to nature and find clues to what we left behind.

She seeks to answer the question, "Does nature really help? And can we measure it?" (The answer is yes, to both).
Nature appears to act directly upon our autonomic systems, calming us, but it also works indirectly, through facilitating social contact and through encouraging exercise and physical movement.
She traveled the world - from Japan to Finland to Scotland and beyond - seeking out the latest research into how the natural world benefits mankind.

And her results? Absolutely stunning.
If you have time for vacation, don’t go to a city. Go to a natural area. Try to go one weekend a month
I have never truly considered the impact of nature upon my life.

Nature was always just sort of *there* in the background. You look out a window, you see trees. Boom. Done.

I mean, I did notice that I would feel better after a walk in a park or reading a book under the shade of my maple tree. But I always connected that to having free time and just having fun in general.

Apparently not.

It was incredibly cool to learn about the measurable effects nature has on our bodies - calmer brains, higher T-cells (which combat infections) and stress levels dropping like hot potatoes.

Reading her book has convinced me - taking long walks in a park is an absolute must and hiking with my family on trails is going to be the number-one priority this summer.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Libby.
594 reviews156 followers
September 3, 2022
I checked out this book from my state’s digital library in the hopes that it would provide me with the inspiration to spend more time outdoors. I already know from experience that days outside in my garden provide me with feelings of well-being and that nature walks give me an emotional ballast that helps me avoid obsessing. I’m just looking for that extra shove out the door.

Florence Williams presents the science in a well-researched, engaging manner. Her narrative style is journalistic. She tells stories about real people, like Zack Smith, a kid diagnosed with ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, who finds it impossible to sit still in a chair. In school, he was beginning to show aggression toward other kids and had been suspended twice. His parents enrolled him in the Academy at SOAR designed for kids just like him. The kids have a rotating cycle of two weeks on campus followed by two weeks in field studies, where they participate in canoeing, hiking, and rock climbing along with other outdoor activities. Zack is thriving in this environment, as do most kids with ADHD. Williams writes, “We have come to see the restlessness that was once adaptive as a pathology… The fact is, all human children learn by exploration. So I had to wonder if we are cutting them off at the knees, not just with medication, but through overstructured, overmanaged classrooms and sports teams, less freedom to roam and ever-more-dazzling indoor seductions.”

I was fascinated to learn that the man who came up with the idea of kindergarten, Friedrich Fröbel, had a much different idea for its implementation than our modern creation. His idea was that “they would grow plants outdoors, exercise, dance, and sing. They would manipulate simple objects like blocks, wooden spheres and colored papers, thus learning, almost despite themselves, the universal laws of geometry, form physics, and design.” My youngest grandson is in kindergarten this year, and although I haven’t seen his classroom, I get the sense that his experience doesn’t have much to do with the outdoors; he is however, having a lot of fun singing.

At the beginning of a chapter with the title, ‘You May Squat Down and Feel a Plant,’ is a picture of an old woman (she has a lot of wrinkles and a crinkly smile) with a nest of twigs on her head. It’s such a delightful picture. Her smile is mischievous and the twigs look like a marvelous hairstyle with hair (twigs) blowing out to the side. This chapter concentrated on the Finns, who at one time, believed in forest spirits. 95 percent of Finns regularly spend time outside. Many go berry picking, cross-country skiing, ride bikes, jog. They score high on happiness tests. What amazed me most is that they have a law called, jokamiehenoikeus, or “everyman’s right,” which means anyone can traipse over anyone else’s land, picking berries, picking mushrooms, picking their nose, whatever. They can even camp and make campfires. The only things they can’t do are cut timber or hunt game.” It’s difficult to contemplate this kind of freedom to wander about wherever one might choose. At my grandparent’s place in the country, all the land we used to wander over is now posted with ‘No Trespassing’ signs.

From learning about shinrin yoku, “forest bathing” in Japan to following David Strayer, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah, as he takes his advanced psych class, called “Cognition in the Wild,” on a camping trip in the desert to joining a group of female military veterans with PTSD as they kayak down the Salmon River in Idaho, this book confirms the science behind why we feel good when we get outside.
Profile Image for Brandice.
911 reviews
June 5, 2019
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative delves into why nature is good for us. Traveling the world and immersing herself in different cultures, Florence Williams discusses various perspectives and theories surrounding nature, often participating in related studies while she travels.

Most of us don’t spend enough time outside to truly appreciate nature and the benefits it offers many people. We get consumed by the fast pace of metropolitan life and easily distracted by competing screens and apps. I too, am guilty of this, though I’ve made an effort recently to be better about it, taking advantage of a tree-lined trail just 3-4 minutes away from my house.

”We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.”

Overall, I found The Nature Fix to be an enjoyable read. I didn’t learn a ton of new information here, but it was still interesting. I appreciated Williams’ humor throughout, and her acknowledgment of having difficulty realizing the full benefits of nature in certain situations, particularly in some the research studies where she was skeptical, or anxious (likely as a result of her adjustment to a more chaotic day-to-day city life). The Nature Fix was a great reminder that green is good for us.

”Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.”
November 29, 2020
So, we all seem to need our nature fix: the more the merrier. The alternative is the Acute Nature Deficit Disorder which we all seem to have, to some extent.
A tour de force on how we might interact with nature, why we are the way we are and what could we do about getting better about satisfying our internal neanderthal (or whatever that internal lizard is that demands that we go and traipse the woods or get anxious). A lot of data-based studies seem to have been used to get to the conclusions presented which in my book goes for a great read.

A reread and a fav.

As one of MacKerron’s papers concludes: “On average, study participants are significantly and substantially happier outdoors in all green or natural habitat types than they are in urban environments.” (And, in case you’re wondering, the data didn’t just reflect a vacation effect, since he factored that in.) (c)
What Mappiness reveals—our epidemic dislocation from the outdoors—is an indictment not only of the structures and habits of modern society, but of our self-understanding. (c)
“People may avoid nearby nature because a chronicdisconnection from nature causes them to underestimate its hedonicbenefits.” (c)
We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization. (c)
Our nervous systems are built to resonate with set points derived from the natural world. Science is now bearing out what the Romantics knew to be true. (c)
And there were a lot of other things they didn’t know: who was best helped, by what mechanisms in the brain and body, what was the right dose, and, moreover, what qualified as “nature”? I personally like Oscar Wilde’s broad definition: “a place where birds fly around uncooked.” (c)
I would meet researchers convinced that the secret to nature’s power lies in its geometric fractal patterns, or its particular sound vibrations, or the aerosols from trees. It was a sensory extravaganza. (c)
Scientists are quantifying nature’s effects not only on mood and well-being, but also on our ability to think—to remember things, to plan, to create, to daydream and to focus—as well as on our social skills. (c)
Profile Image for J.
59 reviews4 followers
March 4, 2017
As much as I wanted to love this book, and was excited to finally get my hands on it, I found the material to be presented in such a dry and slogging format I was relieved to finally finish it. The author's writing style tends to focus chapters on key studies or events going on, and takes what should be a 5-10 page story and extends it into something much longer. This book could have been 1/3 the length with the same takeaways and would have been better.
October 28, 2022
I just finished this book and its very interesting and informative overall but it was only going to get 4 stars until almost the last page when she finally mentions asthma and says that some should not go out in the tree pollen! (finally she thinks of that)

Children with attention deficit disorder should be taught outside as "they can't bounce off the walls there". The difference for small boys is amazing. I have always thought it was torture to be cooped up in a hot reeking classroom and not allowed to go outside. Its like torture for small children and very bad for them. She really discusses this at length. In Germany they have "forest classes" outside. Also, classrooms are toxic with magic marker odors and other toxins which can cause brain damage. There is usually no fresh air as teachers won't open the window or there are NO windows to be opened. For a time I had to sit too near the chalkboard and I am allergic to chalk and it gave me asthma. It was impossible for me to say anything about this and I just had to endure it. I hope people will read this book and wake up about these problems.

I was surprised to learn that being out in nature also makes a big difference for those with PTSD.
People need to be around trees and water. These things are far more important than we realized.
Profile Image for Erin.
227 reviews12 followers
February 22, 2017
The book doesn't flow well. It's basically chapters (short stories) of how other countries experience and interact with nature. All I could think when reading it was that the author wanted to visit all these cool places and the book was an afterthought (and what paid for the trips).

The ending still didn't give me the closure or cohesive-ness that this book greatly needed.

Good ideas, just poorly executed and not really enjoyable to read.
Profile Image for Laura.
216 reviews21 followers
April 13, 2017
Very dry and boring, very little about the science behind the premise. It was mostly about this woman's nature hikes with various professionals who take "city people" out into nature for a couple hours. The "proof" as evidenced by lower vital signs is so little that natural variation throughout the day is easily twice or more, so basically it proves nothing. Found myself skimming, and decided to dnf it. Life's too short to read crappy books.
Profile Image for Melissa Crytzer Fry.
333 reviews359 followers
January 15, 2019
I don’t review a great number of nonfiction on Goodreads, but to those who know me (and my penchant for fiction writing that includes sensory nature descriptions), it’s probably no surprise that this book had been on my radar for a long while.

For years, I’ve grown increasingly alarmed at the rapid rate at which humans have disconnected from nature. I probably really started to notice it when my nephew – now 18 -- was growing up glued to an electronic screen, instead of playing outside and looking UP and OUT.

So, for me, the book validated that we do, indeed, have a lack-of-outdoor-time epidemic and that it is absolutely affecting our mental, emotional and physical health as human beings. The book uses concrete science studies to explain why many humans seem to thrive when spending more hours outdoors, and why they are less healthy when they don’t.

I found myself frequently nodding my head in agreement with the author’s annoyance of airplane and road noise, and her attraction to the restorative properties of nature’s music. And her resistance to “virtual reality” nature, which is no substitute for the real thing… This book isn’t just for nature lovers, though. In fact, I’d argue it is for non-nature lovers. The book (and research) points out that “we’ve grown more irritable, less sociable, more narcissistic, more distracted and less cognitively nimble” due to our lost connection to nature. And that “we think of nature as a luxury, not a necessity,” – when, really, we need to heed the recommendations within: to spend, at a minimum, 5 hours in nature per month; to seek awe; to spend time in forests … for our own health. Did you know that a walk in the woods reduces cortisol levels and high blood pressure? Or that 1 in 4 middle-aged women in the US takes antidepressants? Or that nature exposures, which lead to more exercise, can help you grow more brain cells?

As noted, I don’t review a lot of nonfiction, but this book read to me less as a book and more as a series of journalistically reported essays. Many times, there were no transitions from one paragraph to the next, and the chapters didn’t seem intuitively organized. Sources and studies were essentially attributed in Associated Press Style – which is to say that the flow of the narrative often felt bogged down with researchers’ names and study names, etc. (vs. a footnote system that might have been less distracting). It is interesting to note that even the author, in her acknowledgements, talks of “reporting this book” rather than “writing” it. And it does feel like reporting.

Even so, I was so fascinated by the subject and the studies – because I like to read scientific studies – that I was not deterred by this choice of format. I highlighted many passages and plan to take to heart many of the suggestions in the book as I work toward greater creativity and clarity this year. Despite any style misgivings, I absolutely loved the content of this book!
Profile Image for Laura Leaney.
468 reviews106 followers
July 5, 2017
I already spend as much time as I can outside, so reading Florence Williams's book was a great affirmation of my devotion to all things in nature: oceans, rivers, lakes, birds, predators, trees, and more trees. Preaching to the already converted is an easy job - but I fervently wish that more institutions would pay attention to the deep physiological/psychological connection that human beings have with nature. Schools should incorporate more outside activities and studies. Buildings should be constructed with nature in mind. Give us trees, give us air, and give us a little more silence.......please.

Still, despite the fact that I already know I feel better hanging around outside, Williams's book articulates why I feel the way I do - and she incorporates the current science behind it. Why do we think better while walking in nature? Why is our memory better? Why is our mood? This book gathers many answers in an attempt to reveal the significance of getting outside.

The author writes: Humans have brains that are sensitive to social and emotional stress and we always have. Perhaps what matters is not the source of the stress but the ability to recover from it. This is a key point, because it's perhaps what we've lost by giving up our connection to the night skies, the bracing air and the companionate chorus of birds. When I'm walking across a pleasant landscape, I feel I have time and I feel I have space. I'm breathing deeply things that smell good and seeing things that bring delight. It's hard not to feel the pull of a grounded reality when you're dipping into a muddy trail or a flowing river.

And yet, apparently 15% of the population hates anything to do with the natural world. They hate the dirt, they hate bugs, and their stress (cortisol) levels do not dip down. Interesting. But the other 85% of us probably feel trapped by car exhaust, traffic, leaf blowers, and four walls. Of course, if you're a park ranger or a ski instructor then you're already living the life of Riley - but most of us can't do that and survive economically. (Or perhaps we just think so). Still, some great points are made about "containerized children" and ADHD, points which lead to the overall message of the book: nature heals.

I'm a believer.
Profile Image for KC.
2,424 reviews
March 30, 2017
This is a must read for anyone who is in a rut, unhappy, or even for those who already embrace and benefit from the great outdoors. Thorough and thought provoking text. Nature really can be a wonderful pill for all that ails you.
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,282 reviews262 followers
May 21, 2021
Do you gaze wistfully out the small window from your desk, bathed in recirculated air, annoyed by your coworkers' incessant chatter and wish you were bathed in sunlight on a blanket of grass instead? Well, you may be suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder! Florence Williams takes a look at why we long for babbling brooks, chirping birds and the outstretched arms of mighty trees. For starters, greener areas of urban landscaping have less crime rates, blood pressure and heart rates tend to lessen with the company of a natural environment, creativity flows, and feelings of awe from nature tend to make people more generous. This is a relevant look at our need for nature and a great reminder: go outside. Often! –Sara S.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
876 reviews1,106 followers
August 9, 2019
I just didn't get on with this. I'd heard mostly good things about The Nature Fix on the By the Book podcast, so when I needed to use up a bunch of Audible credits it seemed like the perfect opportunity to pick it up. Maybe that was my mistake though, because it's kind of hard to tell if I didn't like this book because of the book itself or because of the audiobook narration.

I didn't notice that this audiobook wasn't narrated by the author on picking it up, and that was my main mistake to be honest. I generally don't like it when non-fiction isn't narrated by the author, particularly when there are memoir elements - and in this book Williams draws a lot on her own personal life and also her own personal interactions with the various experts she speaks to on her nature expeditions (both abroad and at home in America). This audiobook was narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, and while she strikes me as probably a great fiction audiobook narrator, I couldn't stand her style with non-fiction. She came across quite poorly for me - in sections where snippets of interviews and interactions with experts were given, she put on voices for them and attempted accents that were at best slightly awkward and at worst a little... unintentionally racist-sounding? It was incredibly off-putting, and as a result I found it really hard to concentrate on what she was telling me (and ultimately made me not really care all that much).

In terms of the text itself, it did seem fairly well researched but it wasn't really what I was looking for. Williams delves more into different countries and experts who particularly take city dwellers out of their 'unnatural' habitats and plonk them in the woods and wilderness on various expeditions and retreats. However, I couldn't help but feel like there wasn't really a whole lot of weight behind what she was saying, and there didn't feel like there was a lot of emphasis on how to guide those who live in cities to really get the benefits of nature despite the restrictions to natural spaces. She seemed more interested in commenting on her interviewee's appearances, the food she was eating, moaning about how she'd had to move to a city away from her more rural home, and also dropping subtle hints to the fact she didn't agree with medication throughout (especially relating to mental health which really irked me).

On a personal level too, I really disliked the way she portrayed the city of Glasgow, which is where I have lived my entire life. She painted it in a very negative light, which wasn't particularly pleasant for me to hear. No trashing my city please!

Overall this just felt like a massive waste of time, because at the end of the day the takeaway is obvious - nature is good for you, and we should get outside more, especially if we live in cities and work in offices. Well duh. It didn't really need to be a full-blown book at the end of the day - I agree with other reviewers that say this would have been better as a long read than a book of this length. And definitely don't pick up the audible copy if you are still going to give this a go because it was probably one of the most off-putting performances I've ever heard.
501 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2017
Psychology and sociology books are some of my favorite, so naturally I was excited when I heard about this book. So I was a little disappointed when I couldn't really get into this book which seemed to be more focused on the author's journey during her study of nature's effects on people and cultures.

What I liked:
The fun tidbits from studies about the effects of nature on people
The author's enthusiasm about nature

What I didn't like:
The author sharing her opinions of everyday things unrelated to the topics of the book
The unnecessary details of her journey: what she ate, drank, and how tall the researchers she met were
Excessive poetry references
The author using unscientific methods to back her studies, many statements akin to "He looked like he benefited from nature"

This could have been better represented by cutting out the excess and brought down to a short book or article form.
Profile Image for João Carlos.
646 reviews277 followers
December 11, 2018

”A Natureza Cura” (2017) é um livro escrito por Florence Williams que apresenta como subtítulo ”Como a natureza nos torna mais felizes, mais saudáveis e mais criativos”.
Com esta frase seria impossível para alguém como eu que sempre trabalhou na área florestal e agrícola, quase sempre em contacto com a natureza, não antever um percurso de investigação para conhecer particularmente as influências científicas que nos ajudam a compreender os benefícios do contacto com a natureza.
O contacto com a natureza é ou deverá ser um princípio essencial da vida humana. Nem é preciso convencer ninguém dos seus benefícios. Caminhar no interior de uma floresta ou estar sentado na areia de uma praia, só para referir dois exemplos, servirá para delimitar o impacto positivo no nosso bem-estar e na nossa saúde.
Florence Williams agrega bases sólidas sobre a temática na investigação científica de áreas como a biologia, a psicologia e a medicina.
Apesar de concordar objectivamente com as conclusões de ”A Natureza Cura” o livro é um pouco decepcionante na sua estrutura e no enquadramento da problemática que tenciona relatar.
Talvez para quem viva e trabalhe nos grandes centros urbanos, onde a pressão arterial e o ritmo cardíaco são mais elevados, fruto de uma vivência diária dominada pelo stress e pela irritabilidade, encontre um impacto positivo na sua leitura, percebendo que esse contacto permanente com a natureza aumenta os fluxos de criatividade e os sentimentos de generosidade.
George MacKerron (um dos criadores da app Mappiness; infelizmente, a aplicação está fechada a novos utilizadores) explica: ”(...) as pessoas sentem-se mais felizes quando estão bem integradas em comunidades, preservam relações de amizade, têm as suas necessidades básicas supridas e mantêm as suas mentes estimuladas e empenhadas, muitas vezes ao serviço de algum tipo de causa maior do que elas próprias.” (Pág. 83).
Em ”A Natureza Cura” gostei da referência ao shirin-yoku, o «banho da floresta», o que me motivou a comprar ”Shinrin-Yoku - A Arte Japonesa da Terapia da Floresta” de Qing Li; e a referência sobre a teoria da Biofilia, que Erich Fromm cunhou como ”o amor apaixonado pela vida e por tudo o que está vivo; é o desejo de crescer ainda mais, podendo ser encontrado numa pessoa, numa planta, numa ideia ou num grupo social” (Pág. 31).
Fiquei a saber o que metsänpeitto , cuja tradução é “coberto pela floresta”, é uma doença finlandesa.
Já a investigadora finlandesa Liisa Tyrväinen e a sua equipa sugerem que ”para os habitantes das cidades é a de que apenas 15 a 45 minutos num parque urbano – mesmo num com pavimento, muita gente e algum ruído de rua -, foram suficientes para melhorar o humor, a vitalidade e as sensações de recuperação.” (pág. 131). Concluindo Liisa Tyrväinen que ”cinco horas por mês é o período de tempo mínimo para atingir os efeitos pretendidos, e depois, se conseguir chegar às dez horas, atingirá um novo nível de crescente bem-estar” (Pág. 131).
”A natureza parece agir diretamente sobre o nosso sistema nervoso autónomo, acalmando-nos, mas também indiretamente, através do estímulo ao contacto social e à atividade física.” (Pág. 179)
Alguns estudos científicos sugerem: ”(…) que, se estivermos deprimidos ou ansiosos, as caminhadas sociais na natureza potenciam a nossa boa disposição, assumindo que somos acompanhados por pessoas de que gostamos. Se, por outro lado, quisermos resolver os problemas da nossa vida, refletir sobre nos próprios e soltar a nossa criatividade, é melhor irmos sozinhos, escolhendo um sítio seguro.” (Pág. 179).
É inegável o(s) benefício(s) para uma pessoa – criança, mulher ou homem -, o contacto com a natureza - daí a inevitável sugestão: faça caminhadas nas florestas e nas zonas costeiras. Esta é a minha recomendação sem precisar de ler ”A Natureza Cura”.
Profile Image for Lena.
1,152 reviews254 followers
July 16, 2020
I loved this book, I hated this book. Over and over again you hear about how necessary nature is for our well being. Over and over again you hear about how nature is being dismissed unless it can be of (immediate) financial benefit.

The statistics presented for nature deprivation in children were damning. But the book doesn’t end with the author moving her children back to Colorado. Even with everything she learned Florence Williams still prioritized whatever moved her to D.C. over the peace, harmony, and health she, and her children, enjoyed in Colorado.
Profile Image for Rachel.
584 reviews69 followers
August 19, 2022
Florence Williams outlines why getting into nature is so essential for our health and well being. She also talks about the implications of all the time we spend "plugged in." I have always loved being in nature, but my introvert default mode is to curl up on the couch. This book reminded me of how good I feel when I'm in nature, how much clearer I think, and how much more creative I am.
Profile Image for Esther Marie.
263 reviews12 followers
March 10, 2017
Truly more of a 3.5 stars than a 4 for me, BUT it definitely made me think and since I'm an earlier reviewer it seems mean to curve downwards.

I am reviewing an advance reading copy.

The strength of this book is the skill that Williams has with setting a scene. Her descriptions are very visual and engaging. My favorite chapters were about nature therapy and the role of nature within society in both Japan and Korea. She also does a good job of citing her sources, which is something that writers in the "popular science" genre sometimes really fail at. Similar to other popular science authors, (Mary Roach, for example), Williams is herself a character in her journey to learn more about "why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative." For the most part she comes across as earnest and self-aware, but if her voice gets under your skin early on, she can come across as a little annoying. I think that this is a problem that editing could definitely remedy, and it may not be a problem with the book when it is published.

The primary downfall of this book (or at least the advance reading copy) is that it seems to lack a real focus or narrative arch. Williams does a lot of research into LOTS of ways that humans interact with nature as well as studies looking into how nature impacts the moods and health of people. A ton of food for thought, but there isn't a clear journey. My opinion is that this book would have been more powerful if it were slightly less episodic.

I am passing this book along to my boyfriend (who bemoans our living in New York City and yearns for rural life) so I can say that I would recommend this book, especially to people who already hold some beliefs that green space is superior to urban/concrete space. It's also worth noting, however, that my coworker--a born and bred New Yorker--thought that The Nature Fix was a bunch of hooey.

The boyfriend who hates city life *adored* Nature Fix and called it one of the best books he has read recently. He's a scientist, too, which I think speaks highly of Williams's ability to write clearly and use scholarly resources. For me, this book remains 3.5 although I haven't looked at a finished copy since my review.
Profile Image for Emily Kestrel.
1,109 reviews64 followers
July 4, 2017
The subject matter is fascinating--the author travels around the world, talks to researchers, and participates in different projects that are attempting to demonstrate all the different ways that being around nature is good for us. Some of the projects were kind of goofy, like virtual reality treadmills or taking walks with EEGs on her head, others made me wish I could experience them as well, such as Japanese forest bathing or a therapeutic kayaking trip.

I'm less enthusiastic about Williams' writing style, however. It's quite readable, and I think would be appealing to those who are only casually interested in the topic, which is good, but sometimes her random pop cultural references or strange comments about someone's appearance would be distracting. Her chapter about the Finns seemed especially glib and patronizing, at various points characterizing them as "gnomic" and being in a state of arrested development (due to their enduring love of being outside).

Despite my reservations, this is one of the more interesting nature books I've read this year, and I would recommend it to just about anyone. Even if you think you don't like nature, it might still improve your health.
Profile Image for Sharen.
Author 9 books14 followers
May 13, 2017
A must-read. Florence Williams has explained what we all know (common sense) and she has done the research to back it up. This book needs to be read by every mayor and the members of council in every city worldwide. Schools, hospitals, and all who care about public health and sustainability, need to recognize the vital importance of nature in our lives.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,143 reviews
July 10, 2018
If you go back millennia, the early human mind developed several elements to help it survive, fight or flight, communication and the ability to think strategically. Being immersed in the natural world all day must have had a deeper impact too as it is only over the past few years that the effects of us not having much contact with nature are becoming startlingly apparent.

There has always been a theory that being outdoors is good for you, but to prove that just being outdoors does have a real effect rather than just being hearsay. Florence Williams moved from Colorado to Washington DC and was missing the outdoors and open spaces decided to see how the evidence stacked up and to try some of these thongs out for herself. Her travels would take to the gardens of Singapore, to the Finnish forests, on a river trip with veterans suffering from PTSD, to investigate the 'Forest bathing' in Japan and how children with ADHD can dramatically reduce their drug intake by being outdoors for a period of time.

These are just a few of the many examples that she includes. They all have one common element though, being outdoors is good for your physical and mental health. This connection to nature is deep-rooted and as the evidence is now showing, essential. In this excellent book by Williams, she mixes solid science with a compelling narrative on all the benefits that others have gained from putting down the mobile device and getting outdoors. It needn't be a monumental hike across the uplands either, just spending a minimum of five hours a month, even around your local parks will have a noticeable difference to your well being. This book is not just highly recommended, but I would argue requisite reading.
Profile Image for Phil.
116 reviews6 followers
August 25, 2017
A great candidate for an article--not so much for a book. The basic idea--that humans need to put down their devices every once in a while and interact with nature is a good one. But it doesn't require the endless almost random interviews and anecdotes. There's a handful of good quotes and highlights--the rest can be skimmed. Also, the point that we need nature because our bodies evolved that way isn't compelling to me. If so, maybe we're just a few generations away from evolving into getting similar benefits from our technology. I think the fact that we are created to interact with the universe and world the way God created it to be a much more solid reason to seek renewal from nature.
Profile Image for Jenny.
475 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2021
This book had some great ideas, I just didn't find it very readable. But my favorite take away was the concept of the nature pyramid-kind of like the food pyramid where:
At the base - Interactions with nearby nature that help us destress...birds, trees, pets...(daily)
Moving up - Outings to parks/places that the sounds/hassles of the city recede...(at least 1 hour/week)
Moving up - Places that take a little more effort to get to, a forest/natural area...(at least 1 day/month)
Then at the pinnacle, the rare but essential dose of wilderness...(1-2x/ year a multi-day trip)

And to remember that there are particular times when a wilderness experience is most helpful, such as during identity forming years of youth or following grief or trauma.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,012 reviews226 followers
March 31, 2018
Well-balanced and extremely interesting (like her earlier book on Breasts). Sort of reminded of Mary Roach. I'm disappointed that I missed hearing Williams speak when she was in town recently.
Profile Image for Led.
131 reviews48 followers
March 8, 2021
As an urbanite, like millions of people in the world today, having no accessible wilderness to hike in for months (almost a year now, in fact) because of quarantine, I guess reading about nature is how I attempt to slake the desire.

If there's a straightforward answer to the title's why after following the author's immersion trips and a plethora of related experiments to corroborate this material, based off of how parts could go roundabout, there simply isn't a direct answer to what is special about nature. That doesn't disappoint me though because for all I know, with or without reasons, I take pleasure in the immense wonders of nature. (The patchy writing flow is another story.) But I'd go best for insights that don't painstakingly check sweat amount for cortisol levels to prove how restorative nature is, because I myself feel this: nature is awe-inspiring, and it enables brain-resting. All the benefits follow.

A few added learning I enjoyed were the sections about Finland and Singapore.

"We come out in nature not because the science says it does something to us, but because of how it makes us feel."
Profile Image for Matt.
858 reviews
January 10, 2021
I got the drift of this very early on. I listened to it while outside in the back forty- in nature- while walking the dog. So I abandoned this one after 50% through it. I got what I wanted from it:

Being in nature = good for the mind and the body. City life and stress = bad.

I didn't need to listen to the author tell me of all the studies and reduced blood pressure measurements, etc. She did a good job driving that point home early in the book... the rest seemed to be supporting evidence and studies.

I give it four star b/c it made a valuable point and evidence was given to back that point up. Actually I could have told you being out in nature was good for you and relaxing when I was a kid of nine years old- but no one ever asked.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
96 reviews15 followers
June 10, 2022
SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE! Disconnect. Breathe. Unwind. There are so many reasons why most humans benefit from seeing, smelling, and spending any time in nature. This book discusses many of them.

The content in this book is so important. I listened to the audiobook, which I’d recommend instead of reading it, since some parts were a little repetitive. I have always loved spending time in nature but never looked up scientific explanations as to why. This book discusses many different ways, theories, and experiments. I also appreciated the acknowledgement that not everyone has the same amount of benefits of time in nature, with about 10-15% of experiment participants simply not deriving the same benefits of the majority. Therefore it did not feel preachy, but was very informative and interesting. Chapters have different themes and I took pages of notes, but there is too much to sum up in a short review. I was particularly interested in the chapters discussing ADHD, Singapore, the nature pyramid, and how those who experience more “awe" tend to behave more generously. If you are even remotely interested in the many avenues in which nature benefits humans, I recommend giving this a try. I wish all of those in public office were forced to read this and implement some takeaways.
Profile Image for Lena.
Author 1 book349 followers
November 10, 2022
This book outlines the state of reasearch (as of 2017) on how time spent in or looking at nature impacts both our physical and mental health. The author's journey began after moving from the foothills of Colorado to living under a DC metro airport flight path, and with her quest to discover if there were ways to reduce her subsequent increase in tension and irritability.

She begins in Japan, home of research on forest bathing. Studies there have shown time in nature can have measurable physiological effects not just on standard markers like blood pressure, but also on immune system components like natural killer cell function (a commonly compromised immune aspect in ME/CFS patients).

The governments Japan, Korea and Singapore have found these results so promising that they have invested in creating more highly popular places where their urban popluations can experience the benefits of a walk in the woods, converting concrete jungles to parks and waterways along the way. While the more time you can get in nature, the better, even small amounts of time in a park like setting can have measurable physiological effects, with 5 total hours a month becoming a strong recommendation.

Williams also looks at postive research on hospital patients who have windows with a natural view vs. those who don't, and even the impact of office jockeys simply looking at pictures of beautiful, natural scenes. While real nature seems always to come out ahead, even a park view or a screen saver of a forest can make a measureable difference in measures of our well being.

In the book's later chapters, Williams explores the impacts of longer-term, immersive natural experiences on veterans suffering from PTSD and children with intractable ADHD. The stories she tells here about the healing and empowerment experienced by those able to access these types of therapies are compelling.

It's no real surprise that our bodies and minds generally have a strong posivite response to being in nature that in some cases lasts well after our return to our indoor urban lives. While Williams clarifies the fact that it's difficult to tease apart how much of the improvement comes from being in nature itself vs. being removed from the stressors of daily life (and those damned phones!), and provides some examples of people who remain unmoved by scenes that inspire awe in the rest of us, the overall consensus of early research is that nature is good for us. The more we can get, the better, but even a short walk around a treed block or to the park and back can make a real difference in the quality of life for most subjects studied.

At a time when we are becoming ever more urban and electronically tethered, William's book is an excellent reminder of just how important it is to spend time in our true native habitat.
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