The Healing Art of “Forest Bathing”

The ancient ritual of forest bathing has become quite popular lately as people are turning towards the trend of nature therapy, also coined “ecotherapy.”

“Forest bathing” falls into this category, and is designed to improve one’s physical, mental, and emotional health by securing a person’s relationship with nature.

The actual term “forest bathing” originated in Japan in the 1980s. In Japanese, it’s called shinrin-yoku, which translates to “taking in the forest atmosphere.”

To practice forest bathing you simply need to disconnect in order to connect with nature. This means turning off your phone or any other distractions and being fully present at the moment within nature.

Forest bathing isn’t about meditating. In fact, people who “forest bathe” are encouraged to let their minds wander and discover new things about their surroundings that they may not have noticed before.

To properly forest bathe, it’s important to sit in stillness for a bit to take in every detail of nature around you. Then, feel free to walk around the area, but at a slow pace.

Benefits of Forest Bathing

A study done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered that the average American spends 93% of their time indoors. With those results, it’s no shock that 55% of Americans report being stressed in their daily lives.

A little nature therapy via forest bathing can help to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels and make you feel less stressed-out.  Anxieties and depression will begin to subside because of the rise of serotonin and oxytocin triggered by this peaceful, therapeutic connection to nature.

Forest bathing has also been proven to improve attention skills, which makes sense since you are “actively observing” during the practice. Being in nature can help fight infections because it helps the protective cells inside your body work harder. And, if that isn’t enough, the scent of the trees, fresh air, and plants have aromatherapy benefits that help lower inflammation and protect the brain.

Forest Bathing — No Matter Where You Live

Even if you live in a city, you can travel to a local park, sit on a bench, and zone-out for 30 minutes in order to reap the benefits of forest bathing. Do your best to secure a spot as far away from people as possible in order to focus on the sounds of the breeze and the birds.

If you live in the suburbs, simply sit in your backyard for a half-hour every day. Just be sure to leave your phone and other distractions inside. This is a time for you and nature only.

No matter where you live or what kind of natural landscape you are in (desert, beach town, the mountains) forest bathing will do your body good.

-Laurie Riihimaki


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Laurie Riihimaki is a full-time freelance writer, editor, and busy-bee covering topics such as sex and relationships, holistic medicine and self-care, and career and personal development. Laurie's background and studies with theatre in Boston, London, and New York City have helped her to create a fun, comical voice that she utilizes in her writing. When she is not writing for work, Laurie puts time into developing novels, poetry, and personal essays. And when she isn't writing she is spending time directing, acting, painting, exploring nature, reading, or spending time with family and her dog, of course.

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