WELLBEING | Forest Bathing – A Load Of Old Nonsense Or Is There Something To It?

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Move over Hygge, it’s time to embrace Shinrin-Yoku or Forest Bathing as it’s more commonly known. If you’ve never heard of it before, it basically means spending time in a forest and using all of your senses to take in the atmosphere.

Forest bathing and nature therapy

It originated in the 1980s in Japan following robust research and it now forms one of the basic cornerstones of wellbeing and healthcare in the country.

We’ve all seen the research that proves nature is beneficial to us – and if you haven’t, there are some references at the bottom of this page. From the cardio vascular benefits of walking, to the calming and renewing impact that being outdoors in the natural world can have. We’ve written several features ourselves over the last few years too on topics including walking meditation, wellbeing and why it’s important for children to spend more time outdoors.

My Experience Of Forest Bathing

Now I’ve got to admit it, I’ve been Forest Bathing for years, in fact, well before I even knew it was a thing. My house is right beside Brook Wood in the little Cheshire town that I live in. It’s not big, approximately 5 hectares of mixed woodland which includes a small stream and a woodland trail, but it’s right next to me and I’ve spent so much time in the woods that I have fondly come to regard one particular tree as ‘my’ tree.

Forest Bathing in Brook Wood SandbachHere’s me, forest bathing sat on my favourite tree in the woods beside my home

Whenever I’m stressed, I walk out of my front door and within a few minutes, I’m happily sat in ‘my’ tree, where I’ll stay for as long as I need in order to feel tension begin to leave my body.

I touch the tree and feel it under my palms, I sit there and isolate the sights and sounds of the wood, tuning in to what’s around me.

This refocuses of my attention, allowing me to begin tuning out the frantic cacophony of stress that’s inside my head.

Forest Bathing in Brook Wood SandbachThe rainbow I was treated to one day whilst sat in ‘my’ tree forest bathing

Sometimes I’ll sit there for just 10 minutes and stare into space before I continue walking the woodland trail. Other times I’ll go into the woods just to sit there and have stayed there in ‘my’ tree for almost an hour.

When I first started doing it, I have to admit to feeling a bit self conscious, I mean, you expect to see kids in trees, but the sight of a grown woman randomly sitting in a tree on her own could prove a tad perplexing to the occasional dog-walkers who glance in the direction of my only partially hidden spot.

Eventually though I let go of that worry, and continue to go and sit there whenever I feel the need to. I’ve even sat there in the pouring rain and loved every minute of it.

Forest bathing and nature therapy

When we are in tune with ourselves and we listen, we instinctively know what to do to ease a tangle of thoughts and knots of stress.

So do I think there’s something in Forest Bathing? Absolutely, and most of us outdoor loving types will tell you with absolute conviction that spending time outdoors isn’t just beneficial physically, but from a wellbeing and even a spiritual perspective, it’s essential.

Forest bathing and wellbeing

Don’t make the mistake of believing you need to be a hippy who talks to trees to get something out of Forest Bathing though, when you boil it down, the premise is simple.

You’re simply taking time to tune your senses into the natural world, which is scientifically proven to have a stress-relieving effect.

Forest bathing and nature therapy

When the Japanese government carried out research back in the 80s, they concluded that spending a couple of hours in a forest could reduce blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), but amazingly they also found that phytoncides, the chemicals released by trees, could boost the immune system due to its anti-microbial effects.

So perhaps us tree-hugging kinds aren’t quite as daft as we might look after all?

Forest bathing wellbeing tips

Nature Therapy Research & References

Share Your Thoughts On Forest Bathing

In the comments below let us know what your thoughts are. Do you think it’s just a fad or just hippy nonsense? Perhaps you’ve tried it, or have been doing it for years without even realising? We’d love to know!

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