Forest Bathing: A New Health Phenomenon

“Shinrin-yoku” is a Japanese term that literally translates to “Forest Bath.” It means to go out into the woods or other open natural location and simply be there. This practice has swept around the globe, from purely a Japanese phenomenon to a type of preventative health care practiced around the world.

Researchers have spent a great deal of time studying what happens to people who spend time outside in natural environments like the forest. What they expected to find was the relaxing effect of being in nature, after all, isn’t that why so many of us instinctively escape to the mountains when we need a break? What they discovered, however, was that forest bathing does much more than that.

Forest bathing can help those who have been sick or injured recover faster, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and even help kids with ADHD find balance and a sense of calmness.

All of this comes from simply being in the forest itself. Exercising isn’t necessary to enjoy the benefits of being out in nature. Even simply sitting quietly in a patch of trees and listening to the way the breeze filters through the leaves can offer the same benefits as walking or hiking in the forest.

How do you forest bathe?

Unlike other activities that benefit your health, this one has no learning curve and is simple and easy to do. All you have to do is locate a patch of forest—if one is unavailable, even a stand of trees on grass can work—and go be in it. While you are there, it is best to put away your cell phone or other technology and focus in on your senses.

What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? By paying close attention to the trees and what you are experiencing, you can maximize the benefits of forest bathing. Even how the air feels as you breathe it in can all be considered a part of forest bathing.

Unplugging from electronics and simply being alone is a healthy thing to do on occasion but being around trees and grass can magnify that. If you suffer from sleep problems, camping overnight in a natural environment can also go a long way to resetting your circadian rhythm and helping you get back to more restful nights.

Some areas even offer guided walks if you’re not sure about being in the woods on your own. These people can help draw attention to the sights and sounds and choose a plan that is right for you.

Forest bathing is wonderful for your health, your mind, and your soul. It gives you a chance to reset your body and prepare for a new work week with a revitalized sense of purpose.

Even if you are in the middle of a dense urban landscape with no wild forests to go to, you’ll still gain some of these benefits through visiting a park or even a small grove of trees.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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