What happens when one loves nature as much as they love a nice bath? Forest bathing! Researchers say this Japanese practice offers a whole slew of health benefits. The best part? All you need are some trees and sunlight to enjoy it.
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing is simple; it involves a trip to a forest with no purpose other than to bathe in the sunlight as its rays shine through the branches of the trees.
This activity was born in the 1980s in Japan, where it’s called Shinrin-yoku. It’s typically done fully clothed, but if you’ve got a private forest nearby and a penchant for stripping naked, why not? Just watch out for bugs and poison oak! Ouch!
If you’ve never tried forest bathing, it’s lovely. Leave your phone and all technology at home to reap all the benefits. The idea is to sit under a tree, feel the sun on your skin. Take some deep breaths and reflect on the past, present, and future.
Do it alone or as a family, and in any season you’d like; the idea is to quietly appreciate the beautiful nature surrounding you.
According to Mark Highland’s book Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally, researchers in Japan and South Korea say many benefits are linked to forest bathing.
Like gardening or raising houseplants indoors, relaxing under a forest canopy offers relief from stress, anxiety, and depression. It also provides us with a connection to nature, which we lack in today’s technology-driven world.
Forest bathing can also boost your immune system; trees release oils into the air called phytoncides, which are most beneficial when inhaled.
Forest Bathing Tours
Many places around the world offer forest bathing tour experiences. But you don’t need a guide for this activity.
All you have to do is find a forest and walk off the beaten path a little bit (but don’t get lost).
Then, close your eyes, feel the sun or breeze on your skin, listen to the sounds of the birds, insects, or the water running around you, and take in the earthy scent every forest provides.
In no time at all, you’ll feel happier, refreshed, more relaxed, and better connected to Mother Nature.