Forest bathing is for you!

For those of us who spend too much time at our desks, or are feeling our stress levels rise, a little forest bathing will help us feel better. We can de-stress, become more creative and give our minds and bodies a break from the routine of our hectic lives.

The forest at Bon Echo provincial park

The trees at Bon Echo Provincial Park in Eastern Ontario. Catherine Whittaker photo.

According to shinrin-yoku.org,  Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere”. The practice began in the 1980’s in Japan and has since become part of wellness culture around the world.

Forest bathing is easy to do. Simply get yourself surrounded by trees. There is no need to do anything once you get to the forest, other than enjoy it and absorb all of the good energy that nature gives off.

“The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:

  • Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep

(http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html)

tree top in winter

Even winter landscapes offer benefits. Catherine Whittaker photo.

No special equipment is necessary to begin forest bathing. There are no membership fees and there is no schedule to follow. In fact, it is the perfect pastime for busy people. Even short amounts of forest bathing will help boost your mood and give you more energy.

In Canada we are lucky. We have lots of naturally occurring forests. Even our urban areas have parks with trees. They offer shade in the summer, and feel cozy and sheltering in the winter.

The benefits of trees are well documented. According to research published by Quartz media, there are proven benefits to spending time in nature.

Trees soothe the spirit too. A study on forest bathing’s psychological effects surveyed 498 healthy volunteers, twice in a forest and twice in control environments. The subjects showed significantly reduced hostility and depression scores, coupled with increased liveliness, after exposure to trees. “Accordingly,” the researchers wrote, “forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes.”

Autumn is a wonderful time to explore the forest. The fall colours are terrific. The sound of leaves crunching under foot, or rustling up above, are soothing. Spend time some time in the forest — your soul mind and body will thank you.

facebook Learn the health benefits of forest bathing! http://bit.ly/2x0RZ3j

twitter Learn about Shinrin-Yoku  at #forest bathing  #surroundedbytrees You mind and body will thank you! http://bit.ly/2x0RZ3j

Have you spent time in the forest lately? Where is your favourite spot to get close to nature?

Catherine Whittaker Blog #3 COM0011

 

 

2 thoughts on “Forest bathing is for you!

  1. Interesting and well-written blog, and although I’d seen content around this topic before, I still learned things. That’s great and I appreciate that about social media. It’s really topical too: I saw this on CBC and shared it on Facebook: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/forest-therapy-walks-nature-kingston-1.4364550
    One thing I wonder about is “scientifically proven.” It might be; I’m not saying it hasn’t been. But I’ve seen that claim for other things when it has been bogus (like yogic flying, believe it or not). Is “Natural Killer” cells a scientific term? Sounds like a layman’s term.

  2. Hi and thanks for the comment. I agree, the topic really is not that new. I like trees and I like to spend time in the forest. It is a great getaway from my desk.
    You are also correct about ‘scientifically proven’. Now that I think about it, that may be one of those marketing terms with no specific meaning like “improved” or “may reduce the risk of…”.
    I quoted the article from the Shinrin-Yoku group because it offers the reader a bigger body of research than I can provide in my opinion piece. You are right! the term NK is some kind of made up term.

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