During these crazy times it is more important than ever to spend some much needed time outdoors taking in nature. We are all feeling cooped up and more than a little stressed and now is the perfect time to get out into the forest and do a little bit of forest bathing. That is what I have begun to do on most weekends.
If you have been lacking energy, unable to focus, or feeling stressed, I highly recommend that you give forest bathing a try. Physical fitness is not necessary for forest bathing, nor is it necessary to be an avid hiker. Forest bathing is suitable for everyone, young and old alike.
Just One Tip: Forest bathing is most beneficial when done alone as there will be less distractions
What is Forest Bathing?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoko, it was developed in Japan as recently as the 1980’s and has quickly become Japan’s primary preventative and healing medicine. After giving forest bathing a try, I can understand why!
The primary goal of forest bathing is to connect with nature through our senses. Isolating each sense, one at a time and putting all of our focus on each sense individually. We have to ditch the cellphone, and selfies are definitely out of the question. In fact, this is one adventure that I strongly urge that you do solo so that you are able to take in the full experience.
Benefits of Forest Bathing
The main benefit of forest bathing is to connect with nature which in turn helps to lower stress levels and provide a calming effect. It is also thought that it helps to reduce blood pressure and lower your heart rate, and boost the immune system, which in turn will help to accelerate recovery from illness.
Have I piqued your interest yet? If so, keep on reading, as I am about to tell you how it works.
It is not necessary to be physically fit in order to reap the benefits of forest bathing, as the slower the pace, the more focused you will become.
How Does Forest Bathing Work?
If you are wondering how forest bathing works, I can tell you that it is more difficult than it seems. In today’s society, we are always rushed and pay very little attention to our surroundings. While forest bathing it is important that we engage all five of our senses, focusing on one sense at a time. The more engaged and focused we are, the larger the benefits that we will gain from forest bathing. So let’s see how forest bathing works, broken down by each sense.
Focus on truly seeing your surroundings. The colour of the water. The type of trees. The different textures of the vegetation. The various colours surrounding you, ensuring that you are digesting every bit of beauty that you see.
Close your eyes and listen to the sounds. Can you hear the trees rustling in the wind? Or the soft sounds of the water rippling, and washing up against land? Do you hear birds chirping. You may even hear the far away sound of an owl calling.
Pick up different types of leaves, a pine cone, sticks, or anything else you can find. Close your eyes and focus on the texture of the item you are holding. Is it rough? Smooth? Sharp? Prickly?
Now close your eyes and focus on the various different smells of the forest. I have always found that the strongest smell was that of the trees, especially the pine needles. I have also discovered that the sense of smell becomes much stronger as night falls, as this is the only sense that we have to guide us as we walk through the forest.
You may wonder how you use the sense of taste in a forest. When you are really focused on the sense of taste, you can actually taste the air, whether it be the light breeze or the taste of the pine needles which fill the air. Depending on the type of vegetation found in the particular forest you are in, you may even be able to consume some of the leaves or berries.
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So….there you have it! This is what forest bathing is all about. I have found it to be such a de-stressor, that I have begun to do it at least once a month.
“Into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul”
Give it a try! It literally will bring each of your senses to life like you have never experienced before. I am anxious to know your thoughts and how forest bathing worked for you.
HAPPY HIKING 🙂
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