The modern world is a busy and stressful place. From the demands of work to the pressures of daily life, many people feel like they’re constantly on the go or facing challenges. It’s no wonder that stress and anxiety are on the rise. Fortunately, there are natural ways to reduce stress and improve your mental state without sacrificing time or money. One such trend gaining popularity is called “forest bathing," commonly referred to as “Shinrin-Yoku” in Japanese. This practice involves spending time in a forest to get closer to nature and improve one’s well-being through it. Also known as “forest immersion” or “green meditation,” this practice has been shown to have numerous therapeutic benefits for your mind, body, and spirit:
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing is a practice that enables individuals to gain benefits from being in the forest, similar to those attained from meditation. You can practice forest bathing anywhere: in the woods, on a nature trail, or even in a park. This can be done with or without shoes. Forest bathing is a mindful practice that encourages one to slow down, be present, and appreciate the forest. This practice has been shown to improve mental and physical health just as well as meditation does. Those who practice forest bathing say that being in the forest can have a calming and meditative effect that soothes the mind and body. Spending time in nature is one of the best ways to reduce stress, improve your mood, and lower your blood pressure – all without having to set aside significant amounts of time or money.
Calming Effects of Being in Nature
Being in the forest has been shown to have a calming and relaxing effect on people. It can reduce stress and improve one’s mood, helping to lower blood pressure and put you at ease. Forest bathing can be an effective treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Forest bathing has been scientifically proven to reduce cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” and is typically secreted during periods of intense stress or anxiety. High levels of cortisol can cause weight gain, abdominal fat, and even mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. By reducing cortisol levels in the body, forest bathing can help prevent many of these negative effects.
Psychological Benefits of Forest Bathing
Forest bathing has been shown to have antidepressant properties, particularly for individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression associated with changes in seasons, most commonly from the fall to the winter months. Forest bathing is an effective treatment for those who suffer from SAD. Spending time in the forest can help “reset” your internal clock. It can trick your brain into thinking that it’s summer again—the perfect time for you to be outside and enjoy nature. By doing so, forest bathing can help alleviate symptoms of SAD such as fatigue, lack of energy, and depression.
Physical Benefits of Forest Bathing
Many physical benefits can be attained by forest bathing, including lower blood pressure, improved glucose metabolism, weight loss, and a reduced risk of heart disease. Forest bathing has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which can help prevent or reduce weight gain. Forest bathing can also improve glucose metabolism by increasing the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of happiness, joy, and well-being. Forest bathing can also help you to lower your blood pressure, which can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other negative effects of high blood pressure.
How to Practice Forest Bathing
There are many ways to enjoy and experience forest bathing. Head out for a nature walk: Depending on where you live, you may be able to walk in a nearby forest. If there aren’t any forests nearby, you can visit a garden or hike a trail that leads through nature. Spend time around trees. The trees have a lot of healing properties. Spend time near water. Water has a calming and relaxing effect on the body and mind. Spend time with animals. Animals are also great for reducing stress. While enjoying the nature around you, try to take in everything around you. Be present and at the moment; try to let go of the stresses and worries of daily life. Focus on the sounds of the forest around you, the beauty of nature, and your thoughts and feelings. Try to find a place to sit down, relax, and enjoy the serenity and calmness of your surroundings.
Forest bathing may seem like a new trend, but it's an ancient practice that has been around for centuries. It originated in Japan, where many people would go into the forest to meditate and cleanse themselves of negative emotions. Because many cities and towns are built up, they don't have easy access to nature. Forest bathing can be practiced anywhere, even if there aren't any trees nearby. All it takes is a few minutes of breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the sounds of nature, and being grateful for the life around you.