According to the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mental health. And it’s good for your physical health, too: it can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal and enhance immune system function.

Nature and the end-of-the-year holidays. If you ask me, they go together, traveling across Earth hand in hand at this special time. Maybe that’s because of all the evergreens, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias that we see everywhere we go.

Or it could be that this is traditionally the time for awe, contentment, joy and peace. And nature does, naturally, instill all those feelings, too.

In fact, hundreds of studies have proved that spending time in nature can make us feel better, both in body and mind in a way that nothing else can. One 2017 study from BBC Earth and the University of California revealed that even just watching nature documentaries can increase joy, contentment, curiosity, amazement, awe and wonder. Not only that, but it was found that those who did had clear reductions in their feelings of low-energy and tiredness. Watching nature documentaries even alleviated stress, especially among younger viewers.


In Celtic mythology, the oak was believed to be the controller of the light half of the year, and the holly tree controlled the dark, winter months. The Druids regarded holly as a symbol of eternal life and fertility. Today, holly is hung in houses to accompany Christmas trees.

Those emotions that being in nature brings about—such as amazement, awe and wonder—have been shown by the Happiness Project, an initiative that was a direct result of the 2017 study, to be the foundations of a powerful form of real happiness. Real happiness is a deeper, less transient form of happiness that can positively affect our health and well-being.

So, in that vein, this week, I hope you’ll be able to find four minutes to watch the video below, produced by Eredus. It uses clips from the nature documentaries Planet Earth: Africa (2013), Planet Earth II (2016) and Planet Earth: Blue Planet II (2017), all created by the BBC Natural History Unit and the Discovery Channel. Nothing will bring you more feelings of joy and peace than viewing this reminder of how beautiful, complex, diverse and intertwined the Earth is.


For me, the end of the year and being in nature—or simply watching a nature video—instills something else, too: hope.

I think there’s another emotion being in nature and watching nature documentaries instills in us all: hopefulness.

I wish for all of you that you have a warm holiday season.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,