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Forest Bathing

I was recently introduced to the practice of ‘Forest Bathing’, through a newsletter I received from Diane Poole Heller


Contrary to what the name might suggest, forest bathing doesn't involve water. Instead, it is the practice of immersing oneself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest/nature. The term "Shinrin-yoku" was coined in the 1980's by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, recognizing the need for a natural remedy to the stress and anxiety prevalent in modern life. The concept is simple yet profound: by mindfully spending time in nature, we can rejuvenate our bodies, calm our minds, and uplift our spirits.


While this might sound a little “woohoo” for the more conservative of you... don’t be so quick to dismiss it. It’s backed by a growing body of scientific research. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), lower your blood pressure, and improve your overall cardiovascular health, never mind the fact that it feels terrific.

One of the key players in this natural therapy is phytoncides—antimicrobial compounds released by trees. These compounds have been found to boost your immune system by increasing the number and activity of natural killer (NK) cells, which help fight off infections and cancer.




Additionally, time spent quietly in nature encourages mindfulness and meditation, which as you know have both been proven to reduce anxiety and improve mental health (I’ve punted them for so long now, you will be well aware of this). The sensory experience of being outdoors in nature—listening to the rustling leaves, feeling the texture of tree bark, and inhaling the earthy scent of the soil—helps ground us in the present moment, providing a respite from the relentless rush of daily life. If feeling tree bark is a bit far left for you, just being out there gets the benefits flowing.


In our fast-paced world filled with constant demands and stress, spending time outdoors can be an excellent way to unwind. Simply lying on the grass staring up at a tree in your garden will be beneficial. Stepping away from the speed of life and connecting with the earth even momentarily can give us perspective and calm.


How to Practice Forest Bathing :


  • Find Your Spot: Choose a park, garden or natural area where you can wander freely and feel safe.

  • Unplug: Turn off your devices to minimize distractions. The goal is to be present and fully engage with your surroundings.


  • Slow Down: Walk slowly and aimlessly. This isn't about covering distance but about being mindful of each step.


  • Engage Your Senses: Pay attention to what you see, hear, smell, and touch. Notice the colours, textures, and sounds of nature.


  • Sit and Stay a while: Find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down and simply be. Let your thoughts come and go without judgment. Mind wandering is they key. It’s essential to creativity, and learning.


  • Breathe Deeply: Take deep, deliberate breaths.


More ways to reap the benefits :  


  • Mini-Breaks: Take short, mindful breaks during your workday to step outside and breathe in fresh air.


  • Indoor Greenery: Surround yourself with houseplants to bring a bit of the forest into your home or office.


So next time you feel overwhelmed, remember that nature is waiting—ready to guide you back to a state of peace and well-being.


With love,

Sue

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I am a full convert of Shinrin-yoku, Spending time in a forest walking, hugging trees or just lying on my back on the forest floor always rejuvenates my body and soul.

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