The Japanese call the practice of forest bathing shinrin-yoku, which means ‘forest shower’.
Forest bathing, which is becoming another popular method of managing stress in our hectic lives, is all about immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, smells and textures of a woodland ecosystem.
Scientific studies have shown that walking in a very natural environment has additional positive effects on both mental and physical health. It is said to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and even help ease anxiety, depression and trauma. Forest bathing can also help aid more restful sleep, increase positivity and reduce stress, anger and fatigue. It’s a great way to unplug and unwind and the end of a busy day.
One of the mechanisms supporting forest bathing is the release of tree oils called phytoncides, which when inhaled are thought to boost the immune system according to Dr Qinlg Li, associate professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo. This effect can last up to 30 days.
To get the most out of a forest bath, it is vital to immerse as fully you can. Mindfully breath the air, in through the nose and out through the mouth as you walk, listen to the sounds, take your shoes off and walk barefoot on the grass, be tactile with your hands as well, touch some leaves, the bark of the trees, just don’t do damage and be ready to ignore some strange looks!
So the next time you venture off for a walk in the woods, try to fully engage the five senses to get the most from the experience and note how you feel afterwards.
In good health,