Feeding the mind, body and soul with Forest Bathing
Health and wellbeing has never been so important to so many people, and rightly so. Of the many things we can do to improve our physical and mental health, few help us to escape the stresses of modern-day life and reconnect with nature like forest bathing.
Never heard of it? That’s ok. Even though it’s been around a while, it’s not that well known, so let us fill you in. And no, it doesn’t require your swimming costume...
What is forest bathing?
Forest bathing originates from Japan. Shinrin-yoku, which literally translates to “forest-bath”, was introduced in the 1980s to tackle the side effects of city life and the increasing use of technology.
The act of forest bathing is to disconnect, slow down and immerse yourself in nature, while allowing the sights, sounds, textures, tastes and smells to influence your mood. It acts as a way to reconnect with the natural world, which is proven to have positive effects on the mind and body. This includes stress reduction, increased creativity, decreased blood pressure and a stronger immune system, to name a few.
Think about how good you feel after a regular walk in the woods. Now imagine how good you’d feel if you purposely disconnected from everything else in the world and made a conscious effort to open your senses to the forest whilst wandering (or sitting) amongst the beauty of it all.
Our top tips for forest bathing
Make it about you
We recommend forest bathing on your own. If you do have someone with you, agree not to talk to one another and if you find your paths drifting apart, let it happen.
The main purpose of forest bathing is to disconnect from the stresses of modern life. Switch off all devices to give yourself the best chance to truly relax and be mindful without any distractions. Don’t even bring a camera, it should be just you and the forest.
Open your senses
Try to absorb your surroundings through all your senses. Keep your eyes open as the soothing colours of the forest are proven to have calming effects.
Smell the crisp air, or the damp moss. Feel the crunch of leaves underfoot or the texture of the bark on a tree – if it’s going well, try to sense the roots of the tree beneath you as much as the branches above. Listen – what can you hear? How does it all make you feel?
Meander at will
This isn’t a run or a hike, so slow your pace and take your time as you wander through the woods. Don’t plan a route, just go where you feel you are drawn. If you find a spot that feels good, stop. Sit or stand until it feels like time to move on. You can forest bathe for as long as you like, but two hours is the recommended length of time to gain the full benefits.
Take long, deep breaths. As you breathe in, expand your tummy as far as you can, once it feels full, continue to breathe in, but now release and expand your chest to fill the upper part of your lungs. This kind of mindfulness breathing technique is great for using your full lung capacity and will slow down your breathing, which in turn sends a message to the brain and body to relax.
If you feel like trying forest bathing, just go for it! Anyone can do it and there is no right or wrong. In a world where people are constantly connected to an endless stream of information, news and social media, it’s important that we take the time to look after ourselves in this way, so we hope the information we’ve provided gives you enough to get started.
If you do give forest bathing a try, get in touch and let us know how it made you feel. We’d love to hear from you!