Are you looking for a unique way to boost your mood and fill your lungs with fresh air? Then it’s time to try forest bathing! Forest bathing, which is also known as Shinrin-yoku, has recently become increasingly popular and many are discovering the numerous benefits of this relaxing activity. This article will explain the science behind this calming practice and show you how you can unlock the magic of forest bathing.
1. What is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing—or ‘Shinrin-yoku’ in Japanese—is an unique healing practice that requires little more than a comfortable pair of shoes and the desire to give yourself some quality time in nature. Forest Bathing was developed in the early 1980s in Japan, where it has since become a cornerstone of their health system. It has since gained recognition all around the world due to its appealing simplicity and positive effects.
The Benefits of Forest Bathing:
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression;
- Improves energy levels and boosts the immune system;
- Increases self-awareness and fosters creativity;
- Improves concentration and focus;
- Increases sense of peace and tranquility.
The reason why Forest Bathing is linked to these incredible benefits is because of its positive effects on our physiology and psychology. By spending time in nature, your body and mind ‘bathe’ in natural compounds like phytoncides, which can help balance Cortisol (the stress hormone). Studies have also revealed that walking among trees can lower pulse rate, induce a relaxed feeling, and has even reduced symptoms of illness.
The most remarkable thing about Forest Bathing is that it is accessible to almost everyone. All you have to do is find a park or wooded area, take some time and let the peace and beauty of nature envelop you. Everyday stress will start to dissipate and you will be able to explore the mesmerising experience of Shinrin-yoku.
2. The Benefits of Forest Bathing
When it comes to forest-bathing, there really are no downsides – only benefits. There are numerous, scientifically proven, benefits you can gain from spending intentional time in nature.
- Improved mental and physical health: Findings from various studies show that people who take time to be in nature experience lower depressive symptoms, lower stress levels, improved self-esteem, and improved physical health.
- Cognitive development: Time out in nature can help improve our problem solving and decision making abilities, which can be especially beneficial when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also evidence that nature time helps to reduce fatigue, headaches, and even blood pressure.
Research has even linked spending time in nature to a decrease in anxiety. That’s because being in nature is linked to greater feelings of calm and relaxation, thanks to the positive effects of natural light, the fresh air, and the sound of the birds and other animals. It’s an experience that helps to calm the mind, and make stress more manageable.
3. The Science Behind Forest Bathing
Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is a centuries old practice of communing with nature. This ancient practice is now backed up by science, and consistently shows numerous health benefits, from reducing stress to strengthening the immune system. Not only is it a calming and rejuvenating activity but, as it turns out, it offers a host of medical benefits as well.
- According to research published in the journal Frontiers of Immunology, forest bathing boosted the activity of natural killer cells, which play an important role in the body’s immune system in fighting cancer.
- The journal Oncotarget also includes a study that suggests that a three-day “foresthab” course significantly increases the body’s ability to fight off infections in cancer patients.
Mental Health Benefits
- A 2017 study published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening found that forest bathing improved mood, concentration, vitality and improved overall mental health.
- The journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health also includes a study that shows a correlation between forest bathing and reduced anxiety, depression and fatigue.
While there’s still a lot to learn about the science of forest bathing, these studies suggest that spending time in nature can be a powerful way to boost immunity, reduce stress and improve mental health.
4. How to Get Started with Forest Bathing
Forest bathing is a simple activity that can unlock the power of nature and enhance your wellbeing for immediate and long-term benefits. To get started, it’s important to prepare both mentally and physically.
1. Do some research: Gather some information about the area you plan to visit. Knowing what to expect can help you better prepare for the journey and make the experience more enjoyable.
2. Get properly dressed: Depending on the weather and your kind of forest bathing trip, you may need to dress differently. Wear clothing that let’s you move around comfortably, and suitable for the environment, such as closed-toed shoes for trails.
3. Bring the right equipment: Depending on your particular type of forest bath, having the right equipment is key. You may want to bring a hat, sunscreen, water, snacks, and a notebook for writing and reflecting.
4. Make a plan: Before heading out, make a plan of what activities you would like to do in the forest. Forest bathing can involve all kinds of activities, such as exploring, journaling, spiritual activities, and sensory-based exercises. Knowing what activities you plan to do will help you make the most of your trip.
Forest bathing is a fantastic way to relax, detoxify, and de-stress both the mind and body. So why not give it a try? Find a nearby forest, wilderness, or park and start benefitting from these calming powers of nature. Unplug from life and immerse yourself in the beauty of the natural world – the benefits may surprise you.
Happy forest bathing!