Have you tried Forest Bathing?

Forest bathing?  I will admit, I was quite confused the first time I heard this term.  However, I got the chance to experience forest bathing first-hand this past Fall at a conference in Colorado.

Forest Bathing, “Shinrin-Yoku” in Japan, is the practice of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way, using your senses to derive a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health.  “Shinrin” means forest and “Yoku” stands for bathing.  The idea took birth in Japan in the 1980’s and proved to be a very effective tool in overcoming the ill effects of a hectic life and a stressful work environment.

Connecting with nature allows the stressed portions of your brain to relax.  Positive hormones are released in the body.  You feel less sad, angry, and anxious.  It helps to avoid stress and burnout, and aids in fighting depression and anxiety.

Certain trees like conifers emit oils and phytoncides to safeguard themselves from microbes and pathogens,  These molecules improve our immunity too!  Breathing in the forest air boosts the level of natural killer (NK) cells in our blood.  NK cells are used in our body to fight infections, cancers and tumors.  Nature connections also strengthen emotional intelligence and self-confidence, leading to improved relationships and better social health.

The main principles are to go in silence and go slow.  Use your senses to find things in nature that bring you peace and happiness. 

Here are some tips to start your forest bathing practice:

  • The recommended time for forest bathing is at least 2 hours a week.
  • 20-30 minutes of relaxed time among trees provides you with multiple health benefits.
  • 3 hours a week of nature exposure allows our body to function at its optimum, sustaining health benefits for up to a week after.
  • Choose a Sit Spot.  This is a place you can visit frequently without too much effort.  Your aim is to visit daily, if possible, and to sit quietly.
  • Go Wandering.  This is a version of Shinrin-Yoku that is quite simple.  Go to a place where there are paths you can follow easily and simply wander.  Be relaxed, move slowly, and be attentive.

You can look for a Certified Forest Therapy Guide in your area and gather more info at: https://www.natureandforesttherapy.earth/

How Nature Helped This Postpartum Mama (and baby) Stay Sane

Being pregnant and having a child is such a blessing. I am very thankful for the amount of help and support I had during and after my pregnancy. But I will say one thing…… the 4th trimester is very hard. I was still recovering, having hardly any sleep, having a newborn and toddler to take care of. It can take a toll on anyone, just like it did on me.

However, for this pregnancy and postpartum I was more educated on certain things. One of those things is how wonderful and healthy it is to get outside during this time. According to the University of Pennsylvania, one in nine mothers experience postpartum depression. I was one of those mothers. I experienced postpartum depression after both of my pregnancies, but more so after my first pregnancy.

Every day, even if only for 5 minutes, I would try to step outside to soak up the sunshine or take a walk. I wanted/needed to get outside to take a deep breath of fresh air. It was relaxing for both me and my mind. Getting outside and getting out in nature can be so rewarding for both me and the kids.

Eugenia South, an assistant professor for Perelman School of Medicine, stated, “Nature can be leveraged as a health-equity tool, both in terms of making sure everyone has access to clean, safe green space but also encouraging people to spend time outside as a way to buffer life stress,” she says. “Nature isn’t a cure-all, but it can be a potential buffer, a way to prevent life stress from getting under your skin and leading to poor health over time.”

But getting outside into nature with my toddler and my newborn was very important to me. I know my toddler loves being outdoors, but my newborn can benefit from it too! The fresh air, sunlight, sounds, and sights are all good for his developmental skills.

“Babies thrive out-of-doors. They sleep better, eat better, look better, play better, and learn better. – Magda Gerber

All-in-all, getting outdoors and into nature can help a postpartum momma and children. Never hesitate to ask for help and take moments for yourself (if possible) where you can clear your mind and breathe.

Sources: https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/Penn-study-looks-at-effect-of-nature-on-postpartum-depression