It’s no question that being in nature makes us feel good. For instance, when we take in the sites, smells, and sounds of the forest, most of us are overcome with a feeling of peace & ease. In fact in Japan, the forest is a vital part of preventative healthcare. Doctors actually prescribe something called 'forest bathing,' as a means to help their patients of all ages live healthier lives. In this blog, we’ll explain what this form of nature therapy is and why you should incorporate it into your wellness routine ASAP.
A Simple Form Of Nature Therapy
Forest bathing is essentially a form of nature therapy, in which one uses the natural world to receive therapeutic benefits. The Japanese call this practice “shinrin-yoku.” Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So together shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through the senses. The emphasis is placed on taking in the natural surroundings, and being fully present. No running, or strenuous movement is involved in this exercise. Just a very slow walk with deliberate breaks are required, which for many of us, can be a challenge in and of itself. So what exactly does forest bathing look like? Well, a little like this:
- Noticing the leaves rustling in the wind, hearing birds sing in the trees, the sound of your feet walking on the dirt and sticks beneath you.
- Seeing the sun shine through the tree leaves, the bird land on a branch, the flowers moving with the breeze.
- Being aware of the wonderful smell of pine needles, the fragrance of tree bark, the musty earth below.
How To Get Started
Luckily, forest bathing is simple to do (if you live near a forest), and is 100% FREE. Follow these 5 steps to get started:
1). Leave your phone and other electronics in the car, so that you can be fully present in the forest bathing experience and begin your walk.
2). Let yourself absorb whatever comes your way. You don’t need to feel a certain way, or walk in a particular manner, all that you need to do is be fully present. That’s it!
3). Allow moments to pause and look around. We seldom let ourselves be still but forest bathing is a perfect opportunity to slow down and “smell the flowers” -- or the trees!
4). Find a spot to sit down and listen to the forest sounds. Notice how the you feel as you relax into the environment around you.
5). Stay quiet. Resist speaking until the end of your walk.
Proven Health Benefits
Studies have shown that forest bathing is good for both physical and mental well-being. The Japanese swear by this practice to aid in a multitude of mental, physical and emotional health issues.
Forest bathing has been proven to:
Reduce stress hormone production ✓
Improve feelings of happiness and creativity ✓
Lower heart rate and blood pressure ✓
Boost the immune function ✓
Accelerate recovery from illness ✓
These are just some of the many amazing health benefits of forest bathing.
It's Time For a Bath
Forest bathing is cleansing -- if you will -- as the exercise allows you to tap into the calming energy of the forest, ridding yourself of stress, worry, fear, anger or any other feelings that weigh you down. Now is the perfect time to give a gift to yourself and try this therapeutic nature exercise. We hope you leave the forest feeling refresh and rejuvenated. Who knows, perhaps forest bathing will allow you to incorporate more mindful actions in your daily routine. Be sure to let us know how you're forest bathing experience goes!