Many people like to spend time in nature. But did you know that time between the trees is therapeutic? Forest Bathing is a growing trend that promises benefits for your mind and body. It can help you relax and refuel – and give you a break from the technology, worries and stress that can dominate your daily life.
What is Forest Bathing? Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku in Japanese), literally "forest bathing," was conceived by the Japanese Forestry Agency in 1982 as a health intervention that recognized the potential therapeutic effects of immersion in a forest environment. This should not be confused with the practice of “green exercise”, where programmed physical and recreational activities are undertaken in natural outdoor environments to achieve health benefits. The practice of Shinrin-yoku is much more passive, allowing the participant to take in the forest environment through the senses without effort. Trained Forest Bathing guides assist participants in activities that help them experience the natural environment with all their senses.
How Forest Bathing can affect your health Common sense says that taking in the sights and sounds of the forest can help you relax. But it's not just our brains that get a boost. There are indications that Forest Bathing is also good for our body. One study found that Forest Bathing reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and improves mood. The same study also concluded that Forest Bathing can improve one's energy levels. Another study found that Forest Bathing had a positive impact on blood pressure and adiponectin, a protein that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Spending quality time in forest areas can be relaxing for people with muscle and joint pain, according to a study conducted among a group of swimmers in Japan. While the focus of Forest Bathing is not on exercise, regular exercise can also help you lead a less sedentary lifestyle.
Regular practice is important
While the occasional Forest Bathing can help you relax for a few hours, you need to follow it regularly to really benefit from it.
Tips for Forest Bathing
Forest bathing should be a peaceful activity where you can appreciate the natural environment, be it the light through tree branches, or the intricate details on a tree bark. Here's how to get the most out of your Forest Bathing excursion:
Choose an ideal time
For a peaceful experience, choose a quieter time of day when the forests are empty. Avoid weekends and rearrange your work schedule to free up a weekday. Plus, early mornings can be perfect for a truly immersive experience.
Mandatory digital detox
All electronic devices should be turned off and kept away before you begin. This will help you really disconnect from the usual hustle and bustle and focus on nature.
Take the time to observe
There's no need to rush:meander through the greenery and really absorb everything that happens around you. Slow down to inhale the scents, or listen to the leaves sway gently in the air.
Enjoy the little things
Run your fingers over the striking natural patterns on the tree bark. Watch dewdrops glisten in the first rays of the sun. Enjoy the scents of the forest.