The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing

By Ellie Guinness

I first heard about forest bathing on two different favourite podcasts of mine in the same week,

The Tim Ferris Show (#391) and Lacy Phillip's Expanded (#65); naturally, I was intrigued to learn more.

Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is a form of nature therapy that doesn't involve actual bathing, but taking in the atmosphere of the forest...simply by being in nature. Forest bathing originated in Japan in the 1980's as a method of stress relief for civilians living in urban areas. Today, we are living not only in urban areas, but in a digital world within cities, and nature therapy is more relevant than ever.
 
The research backed health benefits of forest bathing include physiological relaxation, lowering stress hormone (cortisol) levels, and the breathing in of phytoncide (essential oils from trees) improves immune function recovery.
 
For me, I relate to the de-stressing feeling of forest bathing. Most of my worries seem insignificant among giants that have been growing strong and unwavering for decades, or centuries. I can a sense the bigger picture when surrounded by nature that brings me a sense of inner peace and grounding.
 
So how can you experience the benefits of forest bathing? Easy, it's not about exercise, it is just about immersing yourself in nature.
 
Find a peaceful place in the forest to go for a walk or sit and leave your phone behind.
 
Go slowly and use all 5 of your senses to take in the forest. Listen to the sounds of the forest and its life. Notice the different smells in the forest and breath them in. Taste the freshness of the air when you inhale. Savour the different colours and unique shapes in the forest. Feel the forest grounding under your feet. Pick up some leaves or sticks of the forest floor and hold them in your hands. Use your senses to unplug and connect with nature.

We are so fortunate to live in a country with abundant native forest and untouched wilderness to immerse ourselves in, so get out there and get your shinrin-yoku on..