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Nature picks for Mental Health Awareness Week

by Sophie Green

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is nature. If you're a lover of Suffolk's bountiful fields and nature, we've hand-picked some of the best nature titles on our catalogue that have ties to positive wellbeing and mental health.

Wintering, the dormant periods in our lives, the dark moments we endure - which can be brought about through myriad of ways; from the death of a loved one to a sudden change in circumstances or mental health issues - can be lonely, damaging and catch us off guard. Katherine May recounts her own year-long journey through winter, and how she found strength and inspiration when life felt frozen.

Part memoir, part exploration of a human condition, 'Wintering' explores the healing nature of the great outdoors to help us overcome and embrace our own wintering experiences, and how, much like nature, we can learn to appreciate these low periods, and what they have to teach us, before the ushering in of a new season.

Emma Mitchell's richly illustrated and evocative diary records her nature finds over the course of a year and shows how being in the wild benefits our mental and physical wellbeing.Emma Mitchell doesn't want to beat around the hawthorn bush, she suffers with depression, and has done for twenty-five years.

In 2009, the stresses of a city job became too much and she decided to move her family into a cottage in the Cambridgeshire Fens. She swapped days in the office for walks in the wood.

There she began to get better. And better. Her encounters with nature proving to be as medicinal as any therapy or drug.In Emma's hand-illustrated diary, she takes us with her as she stomps the paths and trails around her home and further afield, sharing her nature finds and tracking the lives of local flora and fauna over the course of a year.

Reflecting on how these encounters impact her mood, she explains the science behind such changes, calling on new research into forest bathing and our innate urge to be among leafy, furred and feathered things.Filled with Emma's beautiful drawings, paintings and photography, this is a book for those who want to bring a little piece of the outdoors with them, whether you struggle with low mood or just love discovering more about the natural world.

When Amy returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey. Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father's mental illness, which were as much a part of her childhood as the wild, carefree existence on Orkney. But as she grew up, she longed to leave this remote life. She moved to London and found herself in a hedonistic cycle. Unable to control her drinking, alcohol gradually took over. Now 30, she finds herself washed up back home on Orkney, trying to come to terms with what happened to her in London.

Today many of us live indoor lives, disconnected from the natural world as never before. And yet nature remains deeply ingrained in our language, culture and consciousness. For centuries, we have acted on an intuitive sense that we need communion with the wild to feel well. Now, in the moment of our great migration away from the rest of nature, more and more scientific evidence is emerging to confirm its place at the heart of our psychological wellbeing.

So what happens, asks acclaimed journalist Lucy Jones, as we lose our bond with the natural world - might we also be losing part of ourselves? Delicately observed and rigorously researched, this book is an enthralling journey through this new research, exploring how and why connecting with the living world can so drastically affect our health.

How to bring nature closer to your home, and the key ways you can learn how to see more of it.

When she was a girl, Alice Vincent loved her grandfather's garden - the freedom, the calm, the beauty of it. Twenty years later, living in a tiny flat in South London, that childhood in the garden feels like a dream. When she suddenly finds herself uprooted, heartbroken, living out of a suitcase and yearning for the comfort of home, Alice starts to plant seeds. She nurtures pot plants and vines on windowsills and draining boards, filling her new space with green, and with each unfurling petal and budding leaf, she begins to come back to life.