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An interview with Florence Williams

The Nature Fix

Does nature make you happier, healthier and more creative? According to the author Florence Williams- the answer is definitely a yes. But why? Read the interview and find out.

Florence! You´ve become our guru at the office! 
We love your book: The Nature Fix!

Thank you!

For those who haven´t read your book. Tell them why they should.

Everyone who cares about finding increased well-being through a more meaningful connection to nature should read my book! Hopefully, it will be inspiring, motivational and informative. 

Why does nature make us happier, healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and each other?

In many ways and there are many theories why. Humans and our wonderfully sensitive, complex brains evolved in nature. When we are in pleasant natural settings, our brains and nervous systems feel comfortable on some deep, primal level. We know these landscapes are life-giving, rich and bounteous. When we are outside, our senses take over, giving our thinking and task-performing brains a much-needed break.  This lifts our moods and helps activate parts of our brains associated with empathy, community, spirituality, and creativity.

You have a simple but powerful message: Go Outside! Bring friends or not. Breathe. Why seek nature when we can download a meditation app or go to a Yoga studio?

Meditation apps and yoga are great, but there’s something about being outside in a fully immersive sensory environment that engages our nervous system in profound and restorative ways. We need the sounds and smells and tactile qualities of nature to help us really re-set and recover from the stresses of modern life.

Doctors in Scotland are now literally prescribing nature to their patients. Will we see more of this?

I’m sure that we will. The conventional medical community has been largely unable to cure the many chronic conditions of modern life, including depression, obesity, diabetes, and toxic stress. We have not yet found a magic medication, and the evidence keeps steadily mounting that getting outside is good for us on all levels. It can help prevent depression, reduce symptoms of anxiety, trauma, and stress, and give us much needed movement and social time to boot. And it’s free!

Tell us about the Biophilia effect.

This idea states that we evolved in nature, we feel a natural affinity for living ecosystems, and we are happiest we can interact a bit with other plants and animals. The human species is not meant to live in concrete zoos, in isolation from the rest of the living universe. We need regular nature fixes in order to be our best, optimized selves.

If you live in a big city, does visiting a park do the same thing as a trip to the wilderness?

These environments both have large benefits for us, but they are different. Visiting a park can help provide a temporary mood and cognitive boost. Being in the wilderness offers us an opportunity to think deeply about ourselves, our place in the world, what our dreams are and how we fulfill them, and a chance to start recovering from deep stress, grief, social malaise, existential crises and trauma. Sooner or later, we could all use the deeper connection the wilderness helps us cultivate.

What´s your favorite sound in nature?

I love the sounds of chirping birds and gently flowing water. And the rain! And the breeze through trees! So many favorites.

Go Outside! Bring young people with you if possible, so we can help the next generation receive the gift of a connection to the natural world.

Florence on life

Where´s your favorite place?

My favorite happy place is on a big flowing river, preferably in the Western U.S., where I can see a big view at the same time. 

If we invited you to Norway to see our nature- would you accept?

Absolutely! I’ve never been to Norway and have always wanted to go. I admire how connected the Norwegians are to their incredible landscapes.

Does walking barefoot in nature make you even more grounded?

I have not done as much of that as I would like, but when I do it, I think it’s pretty wonderful. Some science suggests it helps us feel grounded and calm and helps us focus on our surroundings so that we can be more present and mindful outside.

Photo Credit: Sue Barr

Florence Williams

Author, journalist and contributing editor at Outside magazine

Author of:

Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History
The Nature Fix: Why Nature makes us Happier, Healthier and more Creative

The 3-Day Effect (available only as an audiobook on Audible.com)