8 documentaries that will put you back in touch with nature, from My Octopus Teacher to Night on Earth

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It’s official: nature programmes are good for you. So let’s take a look at the best ones you can stream online tonight, including My Octopus Teacher, Night on Earth and Life Story.

Watching nature programmes make you feel happier. 

That’s a fact, according to research conducted in 2018. The study, conducted with Professor Dacher Keltner, an expert in the science of emotion at the University of California, Berkeley, showed that even short engagement with nature shows leads to significant increases in positive emotions such as awe, contentedness, joy and amusement. 

The same research also found substantial decreases in emotions such as nervousness, anxiety, fear, stress and tiredness. 

Let’s be honest: this is exactly the kind of thing we want to be watching right now. That’s why, off the back of a recommendation a friend was given by her therapist, I decided to turn off my phone and tune into My Octopus Teacher on Netflix earlier this week. 

After spending most of the pandemic in a London block of flats, the documentary put me back in touch with nature, even if it was via a screen. With that in mind, here are eight nature documentaries that will help you relax, unwind and get in tune with the wider world. 

  • My Octopus Teacher

    My Octopus Teacher follows the story of a filmmaker, Craig Foster, as he befriends a wild common octopus in a kelp forest on the South African coast.

  • Night on Earth

    This fascinating series lifts night’s dark and mysterious veil to reveal the hidden lives of the world’s creatures, from bats to tigers and elephants.

  • Life Story

    Sir David Attenborough takes us on the journey through life in this four-part series. From first steps to making a family and rising to the top, each episode tracks the lives of animals including tigers, wolves and kangaroos. 

  • Call of the Rainforest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees

    Scientist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger takes viewers on a walk in the woods to reveal our profound human connection to the ancient and sacred northern forest and the essential role they play in sustaining the health of our planet. 

  • Seven Worlds One Planet

    From the icy Antarctic to the dense jungle canopies, Attenborough reveals the extraordinary wildlife stories and unseen wilderness of our seven unique continents with an environmental message.

  • Wild Animal Babies

    *Super cute content klaxon* 

    Biologist Patrick Aryee explores the fascinating first steps that animal babies take in those often-challenging formative moments. 

  • Our Planet

    Our Planet is a groundbreaking eight-part documentary series voiced by Attenborough (of course), which raises awareness of the world’s rarest wildlife and most precious habitats, and the threats they face.

  • Tales of Light

    Photographers and filmmakers travel the world to capture indelible images of people, creatures, places and cultures from new and fascinating angles.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…