What is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing is a health-promoting, nature-connection practice that aims to enhance mental and emotional wellbeing, and relieve stress and anxiety. It involves mindfully connecting with nature and the natural environment through all of your senses.
Why do they call it Forest Bathing?
People who practice it often find it physically, psychologically and emotionally beneficial to spend time immersing themselves or ‘bathing’ in the atmosphere of the forest.
Does Forest Bathing involve
swimming or getting wet?
Forest Bathing is not a kind of ‘wild swimming’ in a lake in a forest. As previously mentioned, it is a ‘nature-immersive’ experience where people ‘bathe’ in the atmosphere of the forest. However, some of the greatest places for Forest Bathing are in the temperate forests or woodlands where there is higher than average rainfall, so it can never be guaranteed that you won’t experience a shower, even if not a bath!
Is Forest Bathing all about Hugging Trees?
Well, yes and no! Forest Bathing can involve actually wrapping your arms around a tree. But it can also involve simply feeling the texture of the bark, smelling the leaves or needles, and noticing the beauty of a tree from further away, as well as just mindfully taking in the environment, landscape and soundscape around the tree.
Where did Forest Bathing originate?
The concept of Forest Bathing originated in Japan in the 1980’s as a response to a growing public health crisis. This practice of immersing oneself in a forest or natural environment, intentionally taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest, and connecting with nature in a mindful way was devised by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries as part of a public health initiative to encourage people to spend more time in natural environments, particularly forests, for their physical and mental well-being.
Since its inception in Japan, the concept of Forest Bathing has gained popularity worldwide as people increasingly recognise the many benefits of spending time in nature can have for their wellbeing. Many countries have adopted similar practices and have their own terms for it, but the origins of the practice can be traced back to Japan.
How do you say Forest Bathing in Japanese?
In Japan, the practice of Forest Bathing is called ‘Shinrin-yoku’. Shinrin in Japanese means ‘forest’, and yoku means ‘bath’, so shinrin-yoku means to bathe in the forest atmosphere, or to take in the forest through your senses. The Japanese characters even look a little like trees:
What does Forest Bathing involve?
Forest Bathing is not really about physical activity like hiking or jogging, but is more about being present and mindful in a natural setting, connecting with nature through your senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
Why is Forest Bathing good for your health?
Forest Bathing has been shown to be beneficial for health in numerous ways:
Stress Reduction;Spending time in a natural forest environment has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which are associated with stress. The calming atmosphere of the forest and the sensory experiences it provides can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Improved Mood;Forest bathing has been linked to improved mood and decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Nature's beauty and tranquillity can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, helping to lift your mood and reduce feelings of sadness or negativity.
Boosted Immune System;Research suggests that spending time in nature, particularly in forests, can enhance the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in immune system function. This boost to the immune system can help the body better defend against illness and disease.
Increased Energy and Vitality;Forest Bathing can leave you feeling rejuvenated and full of energy. The fresh air, natural surroundings, and sensory experiences can help combat feelings of fatigue and increase overall vitality.
Enhanced Concentration and Cognitive Function;Time in nature has been associated with improved concentration, creativity, and cognitive function. It can provide a mental break from the demands of modern life and help improve focus and problem-solving skills.
Lower Blood Pressure;Forest Bathing has been shown to lower blood pressure, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health. The calming and stress-reducing effects of nature can contribute to better heart health.
Respiratory Benefits;Breathing in the phytoncides, volatile organic compounds emitted by trees, has been suggested to have positive effects on the respiratory system. It may reduce symptoms of asthma and improve lung function.
Connection to Nature;Forest bathing encourages a deeper connection to the natural world, fostering a sense of awe and appreciation for the environment. This connection can lead to increased environmental awareness and a desire to protect and preserve nature.
Reduced Mental Fatigue;Spending time in nature can reduce mental fatigue and the effects of information overload. It allows the mind to rest and recover from the constant stimulation of modern life.
Forest Bathing promotes a holistic sense of wellbeing by addressing both physical and mental health. It offers a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life and allows you to recharge and reset.
What is a Forest Bathing Guide?
A Forest Bathing Guide is a trained professional who is there to guide you to slow down, both physically and mentally, and to help you to relax and let go of stress by offering structured nature-connection activities, known as Forest Bathing ‘Invitations’. These are offered in a carefully designed sequence to create an experience that enhances nature connection and boosts the therapeutic and restorative effects of nature for health and well-being for you.
However, a fundamental concept in Forest Bathing is that it is the forest and the natural environment that facilitates the well-being benefits, and not the guide.
“The Forest is the Therapist. The Guide Opens the Doors.”