Forest bath, also known as shinrin yoku, is a mindfulness practice that originated in Japan in the 1980s. The purpose of forest bathing is double: provide an ecological antidote to tech-boom burning and inspire residents to reconnect with and protect our forests. Forest bathing involves:
- Spending time in nature.
- Taking in the sounds and sights of the woods.
- Allowing oneself to rest and relax in the peaceful atmosphere.
It is a practice you can do anywhere there are trees and plants, including in urban parks and gardens.
There is scientific evidence to support the benefits of forest bathing. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression; improve moods and well-being; boost cognitive function; increase creativity, and promote physical health.
The main benefits of Forest Bath:
1. Improves mood and reduces stress
The forest bathing experience has been shown to improve mood and reduce individual stress levels. And very beneficial as it can lead to improved mental and physical health and increased productivity.
2. Reduces anxiety
This is significant because it can help people with anxiety disorders feel more relaxed and less anxious, improving their mental health and well-being.
3. Promotes sleep
Forest bathing can help people who have difficulty sleeping get better sleep, leading to improved physical health and well-being.
4. Increases energy levels
Increasing energy levels can help people feel more alert and improve productivity and mental clarity.
5. Improves immune function
Forest bathing can improve your immune function, making you less susceptible to illness and promoting better overall health and well-being
6. Can help to increase creativity
This can be beneficial as it can help individuals be more creative and potentially improve problem-solving skills and productivity.
7. An easy way to achieve a state of mindfulness
You can achieve a state of mindfulness more efficiently with a forest bath. Connecting your mind with the sounds and smells around you makes it simpler to focus on your breathing and relax.
8. Openness and receptivity
If you want to be receptive to what the Forest offers, you need to be open-minded and let go of preconceived notions or judgments. It would be best if you also were patient to receive all the benefits the Forest offers.
How can I Start a Forest Bathing Practice?
Forest bathing is easy to do and requires no special equipment or training. All you need to do is search a nearby forest (or other natural areas) and start exploring! Here are some tips to start:
1. Schedule some time for your forest bath – ensure you won’t be interrupted and have enough time to enjoy the experience.
2. Leave your phone and camera behind – this is a time to disconnect from technology and connect with nature.
3. Follow your senses – let your nose lead the way and see where your feet take you. There is no “right” way to do forest bathing, so relax and enjoy the experience.
4. Take it slow – there’s no need to hurry, and the Forest will still be there when you’re done. Slow down, breathe deeply, and savor the sounds, smells, and sights of nature around you.
Taking a forest bath can be enlightening. You will undoubtedly come out stronger and more confident to face your challenges head-on.
The forests can clean the air, making it no surprise that taking a forest bath can be a refreshing and rejuvenating experience. If you’re looking for a way to relax and de-stress, then spending some time in nature is a great option.
- Wen, Y., Yan, Q., Pan, Y. et al. Medical empirical research on forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku): a systematic review. Environ Health Prev Med 24, 70 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12199-019-0822-8
- Li, Q., Otsuka, T., Kobayashi, M., Wakayama, Y., Inagaki, H., Katsumata, M., Hirata, Y., Li, Y., Hirata, K., Shimizu, T., Suzuki, H., Kawada, T., & Kagawa, T. (2011). Acute effects of walking in forest environments on cardiovascular and metabolic parameters. European journal of applied physiology, 111(11), 2845–2853. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1918-z