The concept of Shirin Yoku or Forest Bathing originated in Japan in the 1980s and has attained a lot of popularity all over the world; and for all the right reasons.
What exactly is forest bathing and how is it different from hiking?
Forest bathing also called forest therapy is spending time amidst nature. Unlike hiking, it can be practiced by those with any level of fitness. The concept of bathing refers to simply soaking in or absorbing nature. You do not need to set a target or reach anywhere. You can choose to jog, walk or even sit under your favorite tree and savor the vibe. You can do it alone or with a partner. It’s all about finding what feels good.
Benefits of Forest Bathing:
- It reduces stress: Forest bathing is known to decrease the stress-causing hormone ‘cortisol’. This effect is even more profound in Highly sensitive people (HSP’s); as they are prone to extra stress in their day to day life events.
- It uplifts your mood and relaxes your body. Regular practice is said to enhance overall well-being and restore calm.
- It boosts your immune system: Trees and plants emit a wonderful substance called phytocides. We breathe these when we are surrounded by plants. According to Qing Li, a Japanese Shirin Yoku researcher, these compounds help our bodies fight diseases and strengthen our immune system.
- It improves heart health: A recent study conducted in Japan demonstrated significantly lower blood pressure levels, and better heart functioning in participants who regularly forest bathe.
- It improves creativity: Several artists have reported a significant improvement in their creativity after spending some green time.
- It regulates your sleep cycle.
Beginners tips for forest bathing:
Turn off your electronic gadgets, or even better leave them at home. It will enhance your relaxation experience.
Keep your to-do list and other life issues at home.
If you seek quietness and solitude, avoid going at peak hours.
Focus on your breathing, take a few deep breaths, inhale love and exhale stress.
Why have nature-based activities like forest bathing become more important than ever?
As of today, we live in an overly stressful world, and all sorts of chronic illnesses are on the rise. More and more people are dealing with anxiety and depression. Also, we humans have completely disconnected from nature in our day to day lives. Enter forest bathing – it is an easy, accessible and super affordable way to connect back with the energies of nature and heal.
Besides, it also motivates people to protect their country’s forests and grow more trees. A total win-win, isn’t it?
Some beautiful destinations popular for forest bathing are:
- Adirondack Mountains, New York
- Costa Rica
- Waipoua Forest, New Zealand
- Matthews Range, Kenya
- The Lodge at Woodloch, Pennsylvania
- Stowe Mountain Lodge, Vermont
- Grace Mayflower Inn & Spa, Connecticut
- Primland, Virginia
- L’Augerge de Sedona, Arizona.
As much as these places are amazing, everyone doesn’t have access to a forest. In that case, a garden or any place with a few trees work just fine.
Have you experienced forest bathing yet? If yes, do let us know all about it in the comment section. If not, gift yourself some green time now!!