Spending hours in front of a screen has become a normal part of the modern work routine and the effects of living so disconnected from nature are leaving people feeling disconnected, unhappy, or stressed. Forest bathing may be a solution for someone looking to renew their sense of calm and happiness. Japan was the first to introduce this practice in the 1980s as a way to encourage the public to reconnect with nature and combat feelings of stress. Research supporting the healing benefits of nature on our mental health and overall well-being is building more and more every year.
Another name for forest bathing is shinrin-yoku as they call it in Japan. The practice involves mindfully experiencing the forest through all of your senses. Taking time in the forest is a wonderful practice for those who have access, but for those who do not, the key message is the same. The goal is to experience nature fully and purposefully. If a forest is not an option, consider spending time in a garden or local park instead. Taking time to make this connection has many benefits for both your body and mind.
How to Practice
Practicing forest bathing is rather simple. Start by taking a quiet walk through nature. Take notice of the air and how it feels as you inhale and exhale. Pay attention to the different scents around you. The soil, trees, and flowers all hold different scents. Engage your sense of touch by exploring the textures of the space around you. Take note of the colors you see around you and the way that light and shadows fall. Spend time experimenting with different ways to engage all of your senses.
Two Hour Minimum
Experts have determined that it takes a minimum of two hours in nature every week to experience the health benefits of forest bathing. Forest bathing has been shown to bring about relaxation, improve depression, and help relieve anxiety and fatigue. Additionally, it benefits the body by improving the health and function of the cardiovascular system, lungs, and immune system.
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