Forest bathing, the Japanese practise of shinrin-yoku, is best described as nature therapy. The tradition developed in the 1980s is all about immersing ourselves in nature for health and wellbeing and the Japanese government included it in the country’s health programme. Literally translated, shinrin means forest and yoku means bath – forest bath. Studies have shown that it can have numerous benefits such as reducing cortisol levels, lowering blood pressure, and improving memory and concentration. In essence, shinrin-yoku doesn’t necessarily have to be hiking or long walks. Shinrin-yoku focuses simply on being in nature and connecting with our senses, regaining balance, and helping us to escape the grind.
So why is this eco-therapy so good for us? Read on to find out more about why it is so popular right now.
Our health and wellbeing
Forest bathing offers a multitude of health and wellbeing benefits. It can help to boost your immune system, reduce stress, and lower high blood pressure. It has also been linked to happiness and mental wellbeing. Trees and plants produce ‘phytoncides’ which we inhale every time we go to a forest. Dr Qing Li’s study suggests this can enhance certain cells to help our bodies fend off disease.
The perfect pandemic therapy
The pandemic this year has greatly impacted our lives, leading to us spending more time at home, isolated. In return, we have come to be grateful for simple activities such as nature or forest walks. In essence, we have come to appreciate the little things: getting out into the great outdoors, nature, and our locality.
Practising forest bathing is easy (and free!)
Shinrin-yoku can be practised in your garden or even indoors and it does not cost anything which is especially useful during this year. Forest bathing focuses on slowing down and noticing our surroundings which links with mindfulness in many ways. You can do it on a short local walk in your neighbourhood, a long stroll in the forest or just in your green space at home.
So, what are you waiting for? Leave your iPhone at home and tune into nature for your health and wellbeing. Check your locality for nearby forests at Forestry England. You can also read more about Dr Qing Li here.