Forest bathing is a relatively new concept to Americans. It comes from the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, which means “to bring in the forest.” It started in the 1980s in Japan as a form of preventive health care.
The concept is to soak in all your natural surroundings-the sights, the sounds, the smells, along with the essential oils that trees emanate.
I have been doing this during my recent hiking excursions without even knowing it!
You can do it to. Simply head out into a local forest, walk slowly under a canopy of trees, and breathe in the multi-sensory experience. It’s not about getting to a destination, rather it’s about connecting with the creation all around you. It’s about “listening” with your five senses to the forest and all the living things within it.
It doesn’t have to be a multiple hour event that takes up your whole Saturday, it could be a fifteen minute break during your lunch hour. You can go sit by a tree, close your eyes and just rest. Leave your phone at your desk and simply be.
There’s a growing body of research done recently proving that connecting regularly with nature is good for our bodies and our brains.
A 2010 study published in the science journal Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine found that being in nature lowered concentrations of cortisol, a stress hormone, and lowered blood pressure and pulse rate.
Last year, Environmental Research published a review that discovered that a person’s exposure to greenspace can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, stress and high blood pressure.
I can attest to these health benefits, especially to reducing stress in my life. The last few months have been some of the most stressful times in my life, however, when I have taken time to go and hike and experience the nature around me, I have felt refreshed, rested, and the stress of my trials have rolled right off me.
I definitely recommend trying this new exercise because I know you will greatly benefit from it.