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What On Earth Is Forest Bathing?

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Anyone feeling a little stressed? With a second recession, a dollop of pandemic and side order of secondary lockdown you are probably not alone.

It has never felt more important to find nurturing and sustainable ways of relieving stress and anxiety, so what can we do about it? Enter Mother Nature, your local & free therapist. You may have noticed how much we believe in the power of greenery and nature as a tool to keeping you happy & healthy, and the great outdoors is a sure fire way to increase serotonin & cortisol levels (read our blog on this if you want to find out why) , get vitamin D and a hearty dose of fresh air. 

So how does forest bathing fit into this? And what exactly is forest bathing? Does it involve water or is it something else entirely? Read on to find out more about this brilliant way of getting outside and enjoying all the wondrous benefits that it has to offer.

Forest Bathing – what is it and how do you do it? 

First developed in the 1980s in Japan, shinrin-yoku (translated to forest bath) is the act of being present in a forest or wooded area and ‘bathing’ in the relaxation of your surroundings. You are meant to wander aimlessly, listening and focusing on the noises, the smells and the feel of the surrounding forest.  Relaxing is the goal, not working up a sweat or taking pics for your Insta. 

Forest bathing is second nature to Japan, with over 30 certified shinrin-yoku forest and the culture minister prescribing it as a form of therapy. To be honest this makes complete sense, who doesn’t feel better when you have got out the house into the fresh air, and can physically leave your daily stresses behind. Using nature as a form of therapy is deeply embedded in the culture of Japan & it is becoming increasingly popular here with therapy gardens on the rise in the UK and fabulous places like Horatio’s Garden understanding the importance of outside spaces for patients recovery times. 

What are the benefits? 

Japan has invested over 4 million pounds into finding out the physical and mental benefits of shinrin-yoku and the good news is there are pleeeenty of them! 

–       Our HX cell, important in our immune system and for cancer prevention, was shown to increase after being exposed to woods, and these effects continued after each visit! 

–       Essential oils found in forest plants (phytoncide) when breathed in improve our immune system. Fresh air with a health kick!

–       Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity 

–       Forests environments also lower our cortisol levels, our pulse rate and lower blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity. Basically being in a forest chills our bodies out and we leave less stressed. 

Where can I try it?  

Okay so in a nutshell forest bathing is pretty great for you and not a bad way to spend an afternoon. But where does one do it in the UK? The great thing about shinrin-yoku/ forest bathing is that it can be practiced anywhere, all it takes is a mindset and a canopy of trees. 

However if you feel unsure of the best spots to give forest bathing a go, we have teamed up with the brilliant Vespucci Adventures. These guys are all about unplugging from the day-to-day stresses and getting you outside and enjoying the natural world, through providing you with amazing locations (both local and adventurous) and all you need for a stunning day out! Have a look at their website and get 15% off using the code mindbodysoil at the checkout. 

If you go forest bathing let us know how you found it! We would love to hear