Some of the best solutions for helping with your state of mind and well-being are the simplest ones. This definitely applies to the Japanese practice of forest bathing. This simple practice of spending time in nature to revitalize your mind and body is easy to practice. Even better, it’s free. What exactly is forest bathing, and how can it help your well-being?
Forest bathing is the English term for a Japanese practice known as shinrin-yoku, or taking in the forest atmosphere. The name is a little misleading since forest bathing doesn’t involve water at all. Instead, it refers to the process of total immersion in nature, which brings significant psychological and physiological benefits.
Scientific research published in the Journal of Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine has shown that forest bathing can lower your pulse rate and blood pressure, reduce cortisol levels in your system, and help increase your parasympathetic nerve activity.
Forest bathing confers extensive well-being benefits that include:
You can practice forest bathing simply by taking time out, going out into any natural environment, slowing down, and consciously connecting with nature.
Since forest bathing has been around since the 1980s, lots of valuable pieces of information and advice are available online. An excellent place to start is by visiting the Healing Forest and Forest Therapy Hub websites. Here you can learn more about the practice and its benefits. You can also watch the short documentary about forest bathing by filmmaker Nitin Das on YouTube.
And the podcast Treespeed; Forest Bathing from the Scottish website Highland Quietlife has been discussing forest bathing since 2019. They cover aspects of the practice that you may be wondering about, such as the scientific research that underpins forest bathing (Ep. 3), how to cope with the cold (Ep. 22), and even forest bathing with your dog (Ep. 16).
If you want to master the art of forest bathing for yourself or to guide sessions for others, there are several training programs you can enroll in online.
The Forest Bathing Institute offers an in-depth training course accredited by the Complementary Medical Association. Across two detailed modules, you’ll learn about the mindful and meditative practice that accompanies forest bathing and how to get the most out of sessions for yourself and when guiding others.
Forest Therapy Hub also offers certified training courses online that lead to qualifications as a Forest Bathing Guide or a Forest Therapy Practitioner. They’re backed by the EU research and innovation program Horizon Europe.
You can undertake Forest Therapy Hub courses from anywhere in the world since all training is online and self-paced. If you simply want to learn about forest bathing for your own benefit, several short courses are offered by online training provider Udemy, including the popular Introduction to Forest Bathing course.
Once you’ve learned how forest bathing works, you’ll want to practice it yourself. And you can do this anywhere; there’s no need to trek for days into the heart of the rainforest. You simply need to find a location under a canopy of trees. Your local park will suffice.
If you want to explore some suitable locations in your local area, download a walking app such as Komoot, which will give you ideas for hikes and walks of all lengths and allow you to choose the best spot to practice forest bathing.
There are several apps designed to help you connect with nature. And although using a smartphone during your forest bathing experience isn't advisable since it will distract you from the all-immersive nature of the process, some forest bathing apps can help your understanding.
This free app provides you with guided forest therapy meditations so that you can practice forest bathing with the help of an expert guide. As your skills improve, you won’t need guidance, but it’s a great place to start for beginners.
Download: TreeQuility for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
From the Global Wellness Institute, this app provides an alternative way to learn the fundamentals of forest bathing. It includes a range of lessons and sessions that you can access prior to your experience and tools, such as a 6-week program to lead you through the process of learning to connect deeply with nature.
Download: Forest Bathing Life for iOS | Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Since you may not have your phone with you, the best way to measure any immediate benefits is by wearing a fitness tracker or smartwatch. For example, use the built-in Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch to see if there are any measurable effects on your heart rate, and use one of the several blood pressure tracker apps available to help you track that metric.
Even if you don’t attempt to quantify the experience, you should find that there are positive changes in your mood. And over time, you may notice your sleep quality and mental health benefits. If the forest bathing experience helps you to relax, recharge, and feel better able to cope with the challenges of daily life, it’s well worth the time it has taken.
Returning to your daily reality after a peaceful forest bathing experience can be quite an adjustment. You can make this easier by pausing for a mindful moment of meditation at the end of your session and making this a part of your daily routine. You can use Treequility or the excellent Calm meditation app, with its collection of short reflections and breathing exercises, to help you with this process.
Download: Calm for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
Any time spent in the great outdoors can have significant benefits to your well-being. Forest bathing is an immersive and mindful experience that is not only easy to practice but is also proven to be good for your health. It’s one more way to enjoy and make the most of the beauty of the natural world.2023-03-19T13:57:23Z dg43tfdfdgfd