Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku is a form of therapy that involves immersing yourself in nature. Spending time with nature has the power to have positive impacts on our mood and boost our wellbeing, which is becoming increasingly important in our ever-developing world.
With enhancements in technology, urban areas growing, it’s essential that people have access to green spaces to engage with nature to learn, relax and enjoy it.
We often think about our health in purely physical terms. Sickness or injury to our bodies is easy to see and we’ll visit our doctor to seek treatment. On the other hand, our mental health is something that we don’t always act on. This is because we are unsure about its cause and believe that it will just get better.
Shinrin-yoku is a form of therapy that was developed in Japan in the 1980s and has become a method of preventative health care and healing in medicine. Every study conducted about the therapy has shown that forest bathing reduces anger, anxiety, stress, depression, as well as sleeplessness.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours immersed in the environment. In fact, just 15 minutes of forest bathing has been shown to decrease stress levels, blood pressure, and increases concentration and clarity.
What to do
Immersing yourself in nature and using all your senses is one of the reasons that it is so powerful.
See the greenery and the sun through the leaves. Hear the birdsong and the rustle of the trees. Feel the air, water, and bark of the trees. Smell the natural aromas of the trees and flowers.
Here are some simple steps to make the most out of your woodland visit:
• Leave your phone and camera at home. Don’t let yourself be distracted by technology or sharing the experience.
• Let your body and your mind wander. Rather than having expectations, just let yourself ‘be’.
• Take moments to pause. Look closer at the foliage, flowers, and fruit that you see. Try to think of something that you can smell, see, hear, and feel.
• Immerse yourself. Find somewhere comfy and take a seat so you can be still and listen to your surroundings.
• If you want to share your experience with others rather than going alone, agree to not speak whilst you’re there and instead have a discussion at the end of the walk.
There is so much nature to enjoy, so try out shinrin-yoku or forest bathing and see how it makes you feel.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
This is such a brilliant idea. Thank you so much for the information. This is definitely something I will aim to do when I’m able to get out and about. I’ve recently come home from a hospital stay of nearly 2 months, so I’m having to take it very easy at the moment, but just having my window open helps hugely.