Forest bathing is a tradition that has been practiced in Japan since the 80s. You can practice it alone or accompanied, in an ancient forest or in a quiet park … the most important thing is to connect with nature.
What is forest bathing
Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin Yoku, is a practice that consists of spending time in the forest to find peace, tranquility, improve our health and be happier.
This practice is inspired by the Shinto and Buddhist traditions that encourage communication with nature through the senses. Its spiritual component is essential.
They have to be places with high density of large trees and preferably with diversity of environments and trails. You can practice it with a certified guide or try it yourself. The most important thing is to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the forest.
What exactly do we have to do?
It is about abstracting from the everyday life and changing the rhythm. It can be done in any natural and open space, not only in the forest.
To benefit the most from forest bathing you should follow these guidelines:
- Connect with nature: enjoy the landscapes and open the five senses to perceive everything that the environment transmits to us.
- Be relaxed: it’s not about physical exercise or hiking. The walks can be up to two kilometers and last between two and four hours. You have to walk very slowly enjoying the landscape and without distractions.
- Be focused: stop and activate the senses to capture everything that nature transmits.
- Be constant: It is about developing a meaningful relationship with nature and it takes time. With practice a greater relationship will be created.
- It’s not just walking: There are also other activities that help deepen the relationship with the forest. Some of them are sit down or communicate with other species.
- Guided by experts: like any other discipline, forest bathing is best practiced with a qualified guide.
How the forest can improve your health
Anyone can benefit from taking a forest bathing. It is highly recommended when we feel stressed or if we are going through an existential crisis.
The forest affects our senses and helps reduce stress. But the forest air in particular is full of phytoncides, which are the natural oils that trees secrete to protect themselves from other organisms. Its defense system benefits ours.
Some of the effects that, according to different studies, forest bathing have on our health are:
- It improves our mood: it has been proven that walks of 40 minutes or more through the forest favor our quality of life and improve our mood. In Japan it’s a common practice and recommended by the health authorities to prevent a large number of physical and mental illnesses.
- Improves our creativity: the more time we spend immersed in nature the more our creativity and concentration will improve.
- The stress hormone goes down: the absence of stress and the presence of relaxation are the basis of happiness. When descending the cortisol (stress hormone) headaches, high blood pressure, asthma problems, arthritis, anxiety, memory deficit or depression are also reduced.
- The immune system is strengthened: vigor is increased and levels of anxiety, depression, anguish and fatigue are reduced. That’s why forest bathing, by reducing the production of cortisol (stress hormone), also favor our defenses.
- Other benefits: forest bathing also improve rest, conserve energy, reduce heart rate and increase intestinal activity.
I hope that this post will be of great help for you to start practicing forest bathing.