Why You Should Make Forest Bathing Part Of Your Weekly Health Ritual
When you feel beyond overstimulated and your body has had enough of your high-stress lifestyle, a brief retreat into the woods could be exactly what you need to press the reset button. And it turns out that there is a term for that exact process.
Forest bathing is simply the act of spending mindful, leisure time in a forest to soak up its health benefits. You don’t actually dive into any river or waterfall. Instead, you focus on all of the smells, textures, tastes and sights of the nature surrounding you as you wander around with no end destination, feeling a renewed sense of slowness and calm seep into your body.
This practice of tuning into nature and all that it can offer via forests originated in Japan (where it’s called shinrin-yoku) in the 1980s. In its culture, it’s considered a standard and legitimate form of preventative medicine, and professionals there have dedicated their time to proving empirically how helpful forest bathing can be for mankind. Recent research reveals that forest bathing can boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure, reduce stress, improve mood, increase concentration and focus, speed physical recovery from illness, increase energy and improve sleep.
Intuitively, we understand how spending time among the elements of a forest could benefit our minds and bodies, yet more people than ever now live in dense, urban spaces and lead pretty sedentary lifestyles thanks to our modern work culture. Most of us desperately need to reconnect with what makes us human, but we see few avenues into a space that will let us do so. It’s a relief to know we don’t have to look (or travel) that far for this reboot after all.
When you go forest bathing, you have to try to see nature as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it. Breathe deeply, and let the clutter filling your brain gradually fade away. Shove your nose into a tree’s bark and really take in its scent. Listen to the slight movements of insects and animals moving about their homeland as leaves rustle in the breeze. Whatever you do, leave your agenda at home and just be in the woods. This is not a time for goals and accomplishments. This is a time for peace and quiet.
So much of our lives is propelled by frenetic energy pointing toward some predetermined end destination, so when we take pause for a moment and absorb the free natural energy surrounding us, beautiful things begin to happen. And the best part is that we can all afford to do so. Forest bathing is entirely free. All you have to do is locate a patch of peaceful trees and choose to leave your hectic, tech-driven, indoor world behind for a little while.
It sounds like a no-brainer to us.