Cottage Country nature lovers instinctively know what ‘forest bathing’ – or ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ – is, and many have been doing it intuitively for years. For those who aren’t sure, the term originates in Japan and literally means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere for one’s well-being’. An alternative description could be ‘nature therapy’ which has likely existed in all cultures around the globe since the beginning of time.
“Nature itself is the best physician” ~ Hippocrates
During the 1980s, the Japanese studied and developed the practice of visiting a natural area and walking in a purposefully relaxed manner in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the activity as a therapeutic tool. Shinrin-Yoku has since become an integral part of healthcare in Japanese medicine.
Scientific research from the study revealed the following benefits:
• Reduced blood pressure
• Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
• Decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels
• Boosted immune system functioning
• Increased energy levels
• Improved sleep
• Ability to heal faster from surgery or illness
Tips for Forest Bathing:
Try not to have any goal in mind other than to slow down, relax and immerse yourself fully in your surroundings. Let your intuition guide you as you wander through the forest but also take time to pause and sit for a while when desired. Let your body settle into a state of calmness while also paying attention to the sights, sounds, aromas, and sensations around you.
It doesn’t matter whether you go alone or with others, but if you do have company it’s a good idea to agree on silence during the forest bathing session and leave your phone behind. Simply try and connect with the natural surroundings and allow Mother Nature to work her magic.
Stunning natural areas are in abundance here in Cottage Country, so next time you’re feeling stressed and need a break from this busy world why not try ‘bathing’ in the healing magic of a forest near you?
By Moira Gale