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.