Wellness in Difficult Times: Connecting with Nature

We all face difficult times at one point or another. In search of tools helping to ease stress and anxiety, stop worrying, and gain a sense of comfort, people resort to various pursuits, such as yoga or meditation, cooking or gardening.

Connecting with nature is one of those tools. Being out in nature energizes and rejuvenates, makes humans more relaxed, happier, and healthier.

Dr. Qing Li, the author of the book Forest Bathing, explains this phenomenon and teaches readers to maximize its benefits to wellbeing.

A medical doctor and a leading specialist in forest medicine in Japan, he researches all the ways in which being in a forest can improve wellbeing. He shows the scientific reasoning behind the humans’ sense of enjoyment and happiness, and by taking quantitative measurements (such as levels of stress hormones in the blood) and analyzing the results, he convincingly proves huge positive health effects of connecting with a forest.

Forest bathing is something that the Japanese have been practicing since the early 1980s. It is not hiking or exercising – though those are very beneficial, too. Forest bathing is a way of connecting with a forest; it is immersion into a forest atmosphere, experiencing it all through all senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch; soaking in those feelings and sensations.

The author notices that not all senses are used when indoors, causing sensory deprivation; outside, all the senses open up, creating a connection to the natural world and creating a feeling of health and wellness. 

In the book, you will find recommendations on how to best practice forest bathing and learn why, in Japan, it is considered essential for maintaining good health and wellbeing. Moreover, for those thus inclined, the book contains numerous scientific data points in support of the claim.

According to the author, under certain conditions and equipped with all that is required (which is not much and easily acquired), it is possible to practice forest bathing even at home or at work. Check out the book in Overdrive or through the Libby app to learn more, and browse other forest bathing titles available on hoopla

Mysteries of Nature is a nature trilogy from another forest and nature devotee and bestselling author, Peter Wohlleben. 

In The Hidden Life of Trees , he uses the findings of latest research to weave stories of the lives of trees, their death and regeneration. He shares the secrets of trees’ hidden life and reveals hidden communication between species. You can find it in ebook and audiobook format on Overdrive and hoopla.

The Inner Life of Animals is the book about the animal world, about the animals’ feelings and emotions, and the ways they interact with the world. Check it out on Overdrive or hoopla.

The last book in the trilogy, The Secret Wisdom of Nature, is about the entire nature system, and connections between all living creatures, how they affect each other, and how the smallest change can cause a huge impact on the entire system. The audiobook is on Overdrive and an ebook version is on hoopla

What It’s Like to Be a Bird is the Abbot Public Library’s newest acquisition in nature books. It is a lovely birdwatching guide with absolutely gorgeous pictures.

Digital format makes it easy to bring the book to the forest or park or anywhere else where birdwatching happens.

Happy discoveries in nature explorations!

As always, all suggested items are free and available through Overdrive/Libby or hoopla with a library card.

We’re Going on a (Backyard) Safari!

Spring has finally sprung! In New England, that means that nice weather is (hopefully) here to stay and we can all enjoy the great outdoors. It also means that you can observe wildlife galore enjoying the spring sunshine, too. Luckily, our friends over at the Museum of Science, Boston Children’s Museum, and Zoo New England have created some fabulous resources for your family’s flora and fauna explorations.

A great place to start your backyard safari is by listening to the Museum of Science’s Pulsar: A Podcast episode on “Observing Wildlife in Your Backyard.” Biologist Colleen Hitchcock of Brandeis University offers tips and tricks for observing and identifying wildlife that you may see around your house. It is also particularly helpful for observing nature in more urban or highly populated areas, as this episode was originally broadcast as a resource for the City Nature Challenge at the end of April. Be sure to also check out some of their fantastic Family STEM Activities, especially Outdoor Explorers and Ecosystem Exploration, and the Museum’s guides to bird flight pattern identification and butterfly watching for more great activities and ideas for exploring nature in your backyard!

The Boston Children’s Museum also has some wonderful activities designed to get kids outside and in touch with nature. In their Activities Archive, you can find resources for getting creative and going on a National Geographic Neighborhood Safari or Nature Scavenger Hunt. The Museum’s Beyond the Chalkboard educational resource site also includes many great ideas for exploring nature, including how to figure out what wildlife shares your habitat.

Finally, head over to Zoo New England for a wide-array of ideas to connect with nature. Learn how to turn your backyard into a certified wildlife habitat or build a habitat for your favorite animal (if your favorite creature is a butterfly, use their guide to creating a butterfly garden). For the birdwatchers out there, check out the Zoo’s guide to birding in your own backyard, and how to make a bird feeder for your feathered friends. For even more fun, their Kid’s Corner site has lots of awesome nature-inspired activities, including instructions on how to identify trees through touch!

And, of course, we’ve got you covered for all of your bird-watching, butterfly-garden-building, and backyard-exploring reading needs — all free, with your library card, through our Overdrive/Libby and hoopa e-collections:

Pamela Hickman’s Nature All Around series: Trees, Plants, and Bugs

Counting Birds by Heidi E.Y. Stemple

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valério

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jaqueline Davies

Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons

Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer

Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? by Peter Wohlleben

Winged Wonders by Meeg Pincus

Common Critters: The Wildlife in Your Neighborhood by Pat Brisson