The Benefits of Forest Bathing for Mental Health and Wellness
Old woods and woodlands have long been revered in Japan, with trees holding a special place in this regard.
In Shinto, people have a belief in Kodama, who are merely old-tree spirits.
The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries coined the phrase “forest bathing” or “absorbing the forest atmosphere” in 1982, known as shinrin-yoku.
Without really taking a bath, the practice encourages people to just spend time in nature.
Living in the present while letting your senses be fully engaged in a natural environment is the aim of forest bathing.
There is a reason why the world’s biggest cities have green spaces like parks and trees scattered throughout their congested streets.
According to research, spending time in an urban park can improve one’s sense of wellbeing.
A thorough practice of forest bathing has been shown to reduce levels of dangerous hormones like cortisol, which your body creates when you’re stressed, as well as blood pressure and pulse rate.
You may feel more at ease and relaxed as a result of this.
This Japanese technique, known as shinrin yoku, is a method of relaxing.
Both adults and children can naturally reduce stress and improve their health and wellness by following the straightforward technique of being peaceful and quiet amid the trees while taking deep breaths and watching nature around them.
Who’ s qualified for Forest bathing
Exercises in forest bathing can be a lot of fun for both adults and kids, helpful in teaching focus and mindfulness, and a terrific opportunity to share knowledge.
How to practise forest bathing
Although though the practice’s name includes the term “forest,” a heavily wooded setting is not necessary.
You may go to the beach, a park close by, your favourite neighbourhood path, or any other natural area.
Just make sure to silence or turn off your phone and other electronics. To succeed, you must practice mindfulness.
Once you’ve reached your destination, calm yourself down by taking a few deep breaths.
Pay attention to what your senses are detecting, whether it’s the fresh seaside air’s smell or a cacophony of singing birds.
Simply take a few moments to take in your surroundings.
Have a seat and observe the way the trees move in the breeze, or just stroll around. If you choose to walk, take it slowly and without having a destination in mind. It’s crucial to allow your thoughts and senses wander and enjoy yourself. The general norm is to engage in daily forest bathing for at least 20 minutes. It’s okay if you don’t have that much free time.
Start off with as shorter time as possible.
Also, as the purpose of forest bathing is to unwind and disengage, the activity shouldn’t feel forced.
It should be a pastime you relish and look forward to.
Forest bathing and Mindfulness
The ability to be present in the moment, conscious of where we are and what we are doing, and not highly reactive or confused by what is happening around us is known as mindfulness.
The act of taking a leisurely stroll through a forest or wooded area while breathing in the fresh air, immersing yourself in the surroundings, and using all of your senses in a mindful manner to open them up to the forest atmosphere and foster an emotional connection to the environment is known as forest bathing.
In contrast to Forest Bathing, which celebrates the experience of awe and wonder that comes from time spent in nature, mindfulness (in its truest form) is about separating oneself from emotion and reaction to one’s surroundings.
Forest bathing for Mental Health and Wellness
The fight, flight, or freeze response—which is frequently on high alert for people with anxiety—can be slowed down by forest therapy or forest bathing, which is like a “balm” for mental health. Also, taking a forest bath reduces the severity of symptoms like rumination. It has been proven that spending time in natural environs can help with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Benefits of Forest bathing
Forest Bathing and other such mindful nature-connection exercises allow you to unwind and let go of tension, help you slow down physically and mentally, and enhance your connection to nature.
Below are some of the benefits:
- Improved immunological response
- Decreased pain perception
- Decreased cholesterol
- Diabetes risk is lower
- Lowered danger of high blood pressure and heart disease
- Slower heartbeat
Benefits of mindfulness and meditation are seen when we spend time in nature, reflecting and enjoying the moment.
Concerns about climate change can also significantly affect our well-being. Spending time in nature may be beneficial if climate change is harming your mental health. You could also participate in environmental protection initiatives or campaigns.
References - https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-healt h/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/#:~:text=Spending%20time%20in%20nature%20has,wi th%20mild%20to%20moderate%20depression. - https://www.forestholidays.co.uk/things-to-do/forest-bathing/benefits/#:~:text=the%20japanes e%20practice%20of%20shinrin,and%20accelerate%20recovery%20from%20illness. - https://www.mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/blog/awareness/forest-bathing-how-returning-to-the-tre es-can-decrease-symptoms-of-anxiety
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