Biophilia – aka nature therapy

Last week’s well-being blog, on the topic of mindfulness, ended with: Notice and appreciate good things, big or small, around you every day.  Trees, bird song, the smell of coffee, laughter…

Something many people seem to have appreciated more than ever during these last few months is the beauty of nature. We find ourselves wondering if we're noticing more of what has always been there due to lack of traffic/being at home more or if nature is has become more abundant and the birds braver due to fewer people being around and less pollution.

Whether you've always enjoyed being in nature, being outside or being able to look out of a window at a green space or garden or you've developed a love of nature during lockdown, this feeling or experience is known as ‘biophilia’.

The biophilia hypothesis (also called BET) suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. (Wikipedia)

Naomi Stone, Employee Engagement Manager at St Monica Trust, is an expert on biophilia, and writes and speaks about how we can introduce the benefits of this connection with nature into our working lives. You can follow her on Twitter @Betulastone.

Naomi recently wrote an article beginning:

Nature’s not for everyone

There was a gardens feature on Radio 1 last weekend - nature is properly mainstream. While it’s great news that some of us are, somewhat ironically, spending more time outside during the lockdown, it’s also the perfect time to consider how important the human-nature connection (known as biophilia) is for everyone at all times.

She writes about a concern that not everyone benefits, as access to nature can be difficult for some, but even indoor plants and being able to hear birdsong can help. The benefits of this connection with nature include:

  • Improving our cognition and ability to concentrate
  • Being more focused and mindful
  • Being kinder and more creative.
  • Gaining a closer sense of harmony, meaning and purpose

To read the full article, click here (external site).  

A long but fascinating article by psychologist Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury from is well worth a read for a detailed understanding and references to relevant research. In summary, she gives the following advice on how to improve the positive effects of being connected with nature:

  • Walk more – it’s physically as well as emotionally beneficial
  • Keep a nature journal
  • Spend more working hours outside
  • Plant at home – house plants are beneficial too
  • Balance your diet more with natural elements

The article ends with:

“All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried” Donald Miller

Staying close to nature, observing all the little and significant elements of it, and appreciating it from the very core, is therapeutic and self-healing.

Even by saying and doing nothing, we can learn so much from connecting to our natural surroundings. It gives us the perspective for healthier living, the motivation to carry on, and the energy to keep trying. For there is no bond more primitive and ingrained in us than our love for nature and nature’s care for us.

We hope that you've had chance to enjoy the benefits of nature during the pandemic. And if you struggle with access to nature, research shows that even looking at images of nature can boost our mental and physical well-being. So throw open the window, stream a bird song track from YouTube and google 'tree bathing'!