Want To Feel Happier And Healthier? Try Forest Bathing.
If you’re looking for an easy way to lower stress and give your immune system a hearty boost then look no further than your local forest. Shinrin-yoku also known as forest bathing is a Japanese art of taking a solitary walk through the woods in order to bathe in the nature around you.
Shinrin-yoku translates as “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing” and the best thing about this trend is no matter what the weather, it is still effective.
So where did the term shinrin-yoku come from?
The Japanese forest ministry coined the phrase shinrin-yoku in 1982 when forest bathing became part of the national public health program. Keep in mind that Okinawa in Japan is one of the 7 Blue Zones in the world which means it’s where people live the longest and are healthiest. So they know a thing or two about good wellness practices.
Here are a few reasons why if you follow one wellness trend this autumn, it should be forest bathing.
You don’t need any special equipment or a fancy kit.
All you need is suitable footwear for walking through a forest, appropriate clothing for the season (a warm jumper in winter and a waterproof jacket at all times for example). You just need yourself and what you’d normally wear or take with you when going on a walk. This means forest bathing is an activity everyone can enjoy.
You get to leave your phone behind.
One of the main problems these days is that we are always connected. Our phones are continually beeping and bringing up notifications. But with forest bathing, you can leave your phone and camera behind and just concentrate on being at one with nature. And if you’re worried you’ll get lost, forest bathing is all about walking slowly and aimlessly in order to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the forest. You won’t need GPS as you’ll not be following a structured route.
It’s gentle exercise – designed for all.
Exercise puts a lot of people off because they think about it being high energy but this form of gentle exercise encourages reading and reflection to be included. So find a nice spot and sit down and get lost in your favourite book whilst enjoying the tranquillity of the great outdoors. Or simply just sit there and enjoy your surroundings without the stress of worrying about your inbox.
What are the health benefits of forest bathing?
Forest bathing has many benefits including:
- Decreased risk of heart attack
- Mood-boosting effects
- Decreased inflammation
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Lower blood pressure
The great thing about the act of forest bathing is that even the smallest time spent in nature can make a big difference. In fact, any time in nature can have a positive impact on our health. Just one hour in the forest is an hour you’re not looking at a screen. Plus you’re getting plenty of fresh, clean air.
If you’re forest bathing for the first time then it’s important to realise there are no rules. Well aside from the rule of leaving that phone at home. Let your body be your guide and take your time.