When it comes to practicing general health and well-being techniques, a lot of us grab our mat and take a yoga class or lace up our gym shoes and hit the pavement. But if you’re looking for alternatives in stepping up your wellness game, there are many different ways to evolve your lifestyle with techniques like connecting with nature as a city-dweller, and practicing grounding. These ideas of being enveloped in our natural environment align with the popular practice of “Forest Bathing”, an interesting method that I’m supes excited to chat about.
What Is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing has finally started to take hold here in the U.S. the past few years. But it actually started in Japan by their government in the early 1980s. It was referred to as “shinrin-yoku”. Shinrin meaning forest, and the yoku derived meaning of bathing or basking in. Surprisingly, over 60% of Japan is occupied by forest land so it seemed it was an obvious idea to implement and to encourage the population to get out into nature since they believed that immersing one’s self into nature’s green spaces could lead to immense health benefits.
Why Do It?
Numerous studies have been conducted over the years to show that we can’t ignore the amazing and healing benefits of taking in the sounds, sights and natural aromas of the forest. Forest bathing has been linked to improved concentration, reduced blood pressure, boosted immune system, reduction in stress level and even cancer fighting properties. It soothes the mind, calms the body, which naturally helps lessen anxiety and depression, and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. Studies on forest bathing clearly point in the direction of using time spent in our natural surroundings as a form of prevention for all types of issues. If you want to check out some of these studies, peep them below:
How To Forest Bathe
If you’re first thought is, “Do I have to take my clothes off and roll around in moss?” Well you’re in luck – ya don’t have to worry about getting caught in the nude grinding on a tree. While forest bathing can be used with guided meditation, the whole idea is to take a leisurely walk in nature and take in the beauty around you. This isn’t the time for hiking difficult terrain or jogging. It’s a time to wander and enjoy! Take your time. Stop, rest and hydrate if you need to.
Simply take in a deep breath, be aware of your surroundings; chirping birds, a stream of water, a canopy of trees overhead. Even stop and sit to meditate or bring along a favorite book or journal. You’ll discover gratitude and good vibes surround you as you realize how healing a simple walk in nature can be.
Look for park forests close to home and plan a morning or afternoon trip. And if you’re short on time, try and find a local park that has lots of trees during your lunch break or on your way home from work stop at one of the many forest preserves available.
It’s believed that the more you forest bathe, the better the results. There are proponents of this healing activity that take “trips” to forest bathe. Many believe that spending two to four hours a day for a two/three day period can reap the most benefits.
If it sounds like a walk in the park, it is. And it’s free.