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The Nature Fix
Cover of The Nature Fix
The Nature Fix
Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative
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"Highly informative and remarkably entertaining." —Elle

From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature's positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.

"Highly informative and remarkably entertaining." —Elle

From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature's positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.

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About the Author-
  • Florence Williams is the author of 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.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 17, 2016
    Outside magazine contributor Williams (Breasts) writes frequently about the environment; in this extensively researched book, her travels take her to Japan, Korea, Singapore, Scotland, and elsewhere in search of hard evidence that exposure to nature causes positive changes in the brain. Her curiosity was piqued when she and her family moved from Boulder, Colo., to Washington, D.C.; soon, she found herself yearning for the mountains, and feeling disoriented and depressed. The idea that the open air enhances creativity and outlook isn’t new; Williams traces it as far back as Aristotle. What are new, however, are current and ongoing studies by scientists (many of whom readers will encounter in these pages), who are using forests and natural landscapes as laboratories to learn more about how nature affects human health. Williams brings some intriguing observations to light; in the forests of South Korea, for instance, she learns that time among the cypress trees reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. Within the U.S., she finds programs using nature to help kids with ADHD and veterans with PTSD. She also reveals how city planners can successfully bring nature into the urban environment. This powerful environmental call to arms proposes that for optimal well-being, regular doses of nature are not only recommended but required. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from December 1, 2016
    A journalist explores the relationship between nature and human well-being.In this upbeat, brightly conversational account, Outside contributing editor Williams (Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, 2012) travels widely to track down the best science behind "our deep, cranial connection to natural landscapes." Nature restores us, making us "healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other," she writes, echoing the thinking of writers over the centuries, most recently biologist E.O. Wilson, whose concept of biophilia posits a bond between humans and nature, and Richard Louv, who wrote the important Last Child in the Woods (2008). Williams draws on interviews with psychologists, neuroscientists, and others, as well as experiences on wilderness field trips, in search of credible evidence of nature's benefits. Her stories of scientific findings are fascinating: how leisurely forest walks have led to decreases in cortisol levels in one study and, in another, to increases in immune-boosting killer T cells in women with breast cancer after two weeks in a forest. In the stress-ridden, rapidly urbanizing Asian nations, the author encountered, with skepticism, "healing forests," whose smells are said to alleviate disease; the author notes, "the power of belief is hard to overestimate." In outdoor and nature programs in Finland, Scotland, and elsewhere, she finds much encouraging anecdotal evidence of nature's benefits. Former military members suffering from PTSD describe the therapeutic effects of a wilderness trip along the Salmon River; adolescents with learning disabilities appear to benefit from outdoor activities. Many scientists are convinced of such benefits, but their studies, however suggestive, have been small, and they leave unresolved the importance of other factors (exercise, social contact, etc.). "These are difficult things to quantify by science," says one researcher of "the power and mystery of the great outdoors." Nonetheless, there is no doubt that nature is good for us, concludes Williams. A thoughtful, refreshing book with a simple but powerful message: "Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe."

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2017
    Science journalist Williams' (Breasts, 2012) research leads to a scientist who hopes to designyou guessed itan app so smartphones can measure the aesthetic and restorative powers of physical settings and users can crowdsource their findings. Various scientists hook Williams up to gear that either tries to measure her contentment or tries to imitate nature. She usually emerges with motion sickness, or her vital signs don't react as predicted. Williams visits Japan and South Korea, whose national programs in forest bathing, or experiencing nature, aim to slash health-care costs, mainly by reducing stress. In Finland, which is also seeking to reduce the cost of health care, she meets researchers who claim that humans need a minimum of five hours of exposure to nature a month. In Scotland, she observes nature therapy for petty criminals and former drug addicts. Williams often states that real nature works better than fake nature, but the only large-scale slowdown in the speeding spread of techno-mediated life is when a blizzard forces intimacy with the wild. This topical inquiry should be in demand.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

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Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative
Florence Williams
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