Today we are surrounded by more screens, gadgets and technology than we have ever been before. We’re most likely to spend our days sitting in cars or man-made buildings with our feet never coming into contact with the natural ground (really, if you think about it, when was the last time you walked on something other than concrete or carpets?)
Most of all, we are super stressed with very little time to connect with the great outdoors – our evenings are most likely spent staring at televisions or scrolling through social media.
One thing is for certain, as a society, we are struggling to find a balance. There’s plenty of evidence to show us that this way of life is just not good for our physical and mental health – and that’s why Forest Bathing, or Shinrin Yoku, seems to be a popular concept at the moment.
Can trees make us feel better? Yes!
The concept of Forest Bathing encourages us human beings to retreat into nature and spend some quality time in the environment that we naturally came from, specifically around trees. When you think about it, humans have lived in nature for 5 million years – we’ve only been surrounded by an urban environment for the last several hundred.
So how exactly does Forest Bathing benefit our health? Of course the fresh air and tranquil stillness contribute to your sense of wellness, but actually, trees emit oils into the air to help protect them from germs and insects. These oils, called phytoncides, help our immune systems, reduce depression, improve sleep quality, increase your memory and boost our energy.
How to go forest bathing…
It’s not got much to do about sitting in an outdoor bath or hot tub, but the Japanese beleive that simply spending time among trees will improve our health and wellbeing.
The practice doesn’t require any warm-ups, techniques or workouts; all that’s needed is quiet contemplation among the trees. It’s a practice that reduces our blood pressure, helps with our anxieties and generally leaves us with a sense of wellbeing and peace.
There are any Forest Bathing trails and curated forests throughout Japan where the concept is practised, some of which are incredibly ancient which wind through forests and mountain passes. However, it’s also recommended in Japan that you can gain the same benefits from visiting a local park for two hours if you live in the city.
A common health and wellbeing practice in Japan!
Japanese culture has long since recognised the benefits, launching a national ‘Shinrin-yoku’ health programme back in 1982. Some businesses even specialise in Forest Bathing, offering a combination of aromatherapy and guided walk sessions to clients wanting to feel happier and calmer.
Regular contact with nature improves our health and wellbeing. Turn off your phones, head out into the trees and just let nature do the rest you’ll be feeling calmer and happier in no time!