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Forest bathing is a Japanese concept known in Japanese as Shinrin-yoku (森林浴). It involves taking a visit to a forested area for the purposes of recreation by way of leisurely walks and simply "being" in the forest. It is considered a way of overcoming stress, mending having spent too much time spent with electronic devices or just to helping you to unwind.
The benefits of forest bathing
After even 15 minutes of wandering through a forest in the "Shinrin-yoku" way results in feeling calmer, your stress levels fall and even your blood pressure may drop. It may decrease anxiety, depression and anger.
If you've been working hard at studies, work or other intellectual pursuits, a Shinrin-yoku experience may assist you with improved clarity and better concentration. Forest bathing can help you to feel at peace, attuned to the connections beyond the self and transcendent.
Natural killer cells (NK cells) have been shown to increase after forest bathing trips of three days with two-night stays in the forest, lasting up to a month after the visits. Benefits up to seven days were shown with a one-day forest visit. It is thought that this may be due, in part, to breathing air carrying phytoncide (wood essential oils), such as α-pinene and limonene.
How to forest bathe
Visit a park, forest, woods or area with plenty of trees and nature. Trees are an important part of the experience; however, other natural settings such as watersides and grasslands may also be beneficial.
Take in the sights around you, smell the aroma of the trees and bushes, hear the bird songs and listen to the sounds of the animals moving and scurrying as they go about their daily business of living. Hear the sounds of water trickling, the trees rustling and the birds crying overhead as they fly between the trees.
The idea is to experience the forest as fully as possible with all of your senses, dipping yourself into it as you'd slip into a bath. Allow everything to wash over you as you sit, stand or walk through the forest.
Have refreshments and water as needed and do not push yourself to the point of tiredness. This is an experience to be enjoyed, not worried about.
Repeat regularly. For the greatest benefits, include forest bathing in your weekly experiences.
- A hot spring bath is a nice ending to forest bathing, or a hot bath at home.
- Find a tree-filled area as close to home as possible; driving or using transporation may add stress if you have to travel too far. If you have to travel a way, consider staying in the forest for a night.