Science & Chill

5 Netflix nature documentaries that will get you through winter

Your brain wants to be outside. Trick it with these films.

Originally Published: 

Nature can be an antidote to stress. When people venture into the great outdoors, their anxiety reduces and their mood lifts.

A recent review of scientific literature found as little as 10 minutes a day of exposure to nature could be beneficial.

Other experts say the ideal dose for mental and physical health is 120 minutes per week.

Some scientists speculate people possess "an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life."

It's called the biophilia hypothesis.

It may explain why many people love to watch the sunset, walk through the forest, or swim in the sea.

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But what if you're stuck inside without regular access to nature?

These days, time outside may be more limited. Luckily, studies suggest it is possible to glean nature's mood-boosting benefits, without ever leaving your home.

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In a small study examining 48 prison inmates living in solitary confinement, 91 percent reported feeling calmer after watching nature videos. Eighty percent said they still felt calm several hours after the videos ended, and could better self-regulate their emotions.

Want to connect with the world outside, while inside?

Turn on Netflix. Here are five nature documentaries that can help people fulfill their biophilia — and virtually travel to wild spaces.

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1. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Stream it here.


In Sir David Attenborough's culminating "witness statement," he describes the shocking environmental damage waged by humankind and charts a path toward recovery.

It's incredibly moving and filled with captivating footage of the natural world.

2. My Octopus Teacher

Stream it here.


My Octopus Teacher chronicles the unlikely friendship between a filmmaker and an octopus living in a South African kelp forest.

It may change the way you think about marine ecosystems — and relationships between people and animals.

3. Night on Earth

Stream it here.


Watch how the animal kingdom comes alive under the cloak of darkness, using the latest night-photography technology.

4. Chasing Coral

Stream it here.


Chasing Coral takes place in the deep blue, following a group of divers, scientists, and photographers racing to document coral bleaching events spanning the world's oceans.

5. Virunga

Stream it here.

Netflix/ MovieClips Indie

Virunga documents the stunning beauty and biodiversity under siege by oil companies in Virunga National Park.

Set during the rise of the M23 Rebellion in 2012, the film follows the conservation work of park rangers fighting to preserve the home of the world's last mountain gorillas, and an entire community's livelihood.

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