Modern-day routines of hours spent in front of the computer or other various screens combined with overworking leave many people feeling disconnected, irritable, or unhappy. One practice that may help bring a sense of calm and joy back into someone’s life is forest bathing. The idea of forest bathing first originated in Japan in the 1980s to encourage the public to take time to get back into nature and thereby countering the effects of the hectic modern lifestyle. As time goes on, more and more research confirms the grounding and calming effects that nature has on both our bodies and our minds.
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku as it is known in Japan, is the practice of mindfully taking in the atmosphere of the forest through all the senses. While a great option if you are able, not everyone has access to a nearby forest. Regardless of your access to a forest, the takeaways are the same. Connecting with nature, however you are able, has a multitude of benefits for your mind and your health.
The practice is simple. Walk quietly through nature, take in deeps breaths, and notice the way the air feels passing through your lungs. Notice the aroma of the plants, trees, and soil around you. Take a moment to explore the textures of the environment through touch. Notice the colors of the plants around you and the way that the light falls across the landscape. Explore all the various ways to engage your senses. Taking time to mindfully observe and soak in all that nature has to offer will improve your overall wellbeing.
While not many of us need to be told that getting out into nature is good for us, the body of research supporting this knowing is growing every day. Research has shown that it takes a minimum of two hours a week outdoors in nature to reap the benefits of forest bathing. These benefits include improved cardiovascular, lung, and immune system health. Bringing your body back to a state of calm and relaxation also helps decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
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