Forest bathing! Is this a new word for you? Must you be wondering about its meaning? If you have been in the dark about this new trend, let me tell you that it is the intentional practice of connecting with our mother nature and embracing yourself with the natural world’s positive energies. The article offers you the health benefits of forest bathing. It is not just a regular walk in the woods. There’s always an intention in practice to connect with mother nature.
Derivation Of The Word
It originated in Japan in the late 1980s and was termed by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture as “Shinrin-yoku,” which means “forest bathing.” In Japan, it is customary to practice a forest bath or Shinrin-yoku. Shinrin means “forest,” and yoku are “bath.” Hence, it is bathing in the forest atmosphere or taking in the forest through our five senses.
Let me share an incident in Japan about forest bathing. A person while doing a running through the forest one day, the guard there shouted coming towards him, “No running, no running.” A Forest bath is not an extensive exercising program or hiking. It is merely in the lap of nature, connecting with it via our five sensations like sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
Do You Know?
It had been assumed that 67% of the world’s population is projected to live in cities by 2050. A study from the Environmental Protection Agency posits that the average Americans spend about 93% of their time indoors. The good news is that spending even a small amount of time in nature can significantly impact our health. Even a two-hour forest bath will help you unplug from the technology and bring you into the present moment and de-stress you.
Forset Bathing Paradises In The World
A deep connection to the land is central to Hawaiian culture. Forests here are traditionally referred to as life-giving for the natural materials they provide and the spiritual needs they satisfy.
2. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a forest bathing paradise as here, more than 50 percent of the country is covered by forest. Around 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity is found here, making it a perfect spot for forest bathing.
3. New Zealand
It is also an excellent place for forest bathing. Lots of people explore it for forest bathing. It is not always about spending money to explore a place to have that feeling. If you don’t have a forest or woods nearby you, don’t worry, even you can practice Shinrin-Yoku in the nearest park. It can be an urban park, a nature preserve, or a trail through woods.
Follow This Short Guidance To Embrace The Sensations
- Leave behind your phone, camera, or any other distractions.
- Leave behind your expectations and wander.
- Pause from time to time, to look more deeply at a leaf or notice the small sensations.
- Find a comfortable spot to take a seat, listen to the sounds around you, and slowly observe the birds’ different behavior and other animals. One doesn’t need to travel deep into a forest to have the health benefits of forest bathing. You need to look for any green, calm, peaceful area.
- If accompanying others, try to agree to resist talking until the end of the walk.
Once you begin walking into the woods, you might find that using your five senses is a great way to start the journey. Finally, bring your attention to your energy.
Try different forms of activities like yoga in the woods, or Tai chi, or meditation. You can explore alone or with a companion. A suggestion, don’t hurry and worry. Slow walking is recommended for beginners. And it’s really good to spend as much time as possible in the forest. You’ll start to notice positive effects happening after spending at least 20 to 30 minutes.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing can help us to develop focus and to become more aware of the present moment. There are more health benefits of forest bathing given below.
1. Improves Your Mood
Derby University has conducted a study of existing research, concluding that connecting to nature is linked to mental well-being. Even spending quality time in nature releases happy hormones. It is a natural way to boosts your mood.
2. Reduces Your Stress
At Chiba University in Japan, a professor has been researching the health benefits of forest bathing since 2004. The professor found that leisurely forest walks yield a 12 percent decrease in the stress hormone, cortisol. The forested nature gives healing sensations to your mind.
3. Boosts Your Immune System
Trees emit ‘phytoncides’ that we breathe in when we spend time in the forest. It is proven in studies by a Japanese Shinrin-yoku researcher to enhance Natural Killer cells’ activity that helps our bodies fight against the disease.
4. Improves Creativity
In a study at the University of Utah, participants saw a 50% improvement in their creative problem solving after spending three days with nature with all access to modern technology removed. It helps you reconnect with the creative self, boosting your mental capacity and concentration.
5. Reduces High Blood Pressure
Forest bathing reduces high blood pressure, a factor in maintaining a healthy heart. A recent study in Japan reviewed 20 trials, which included 732 participants, who stated that high blood pressure levels in the forest environment were lower than those in the non-forest environment.
6. Accelerates Your Recovery From Illness
Nature can be a powerful technique in the healing or health recovery process. The health secrets of trees seem to lie in the higher concentration of oxygen in a forest than in an urban setting. The presence of plant chemicals phytoncides acts as a defense system against bacteria, insects, and fungi.
Try to engage all your senses. “Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and feet. Try to listen actively, smell, touch, and look. It is a saying that “Drink in the flavor of the forest and release your sense of joy and calm.”