September 26, 2021: The Benefits of “Bathing” in the Forest
“Come to the woods for here is rest.”– John Muir
Amidst the demands, fast pace and cacophony of our modern society, there is also recognition through research, of how time spent in nature can make us feel better. When outdoors in natural settings, we can open our senses to what’s surrounding us; the whisper of leaves, a scent of balsam on the breeze, flickers of sunlight peeking through a canopy of leaves, and an abundance of fresh clean air; and discover a powerful antidote to the loud and sometimes overbearing noise and stress of a technology driven world. These experiences can help to alleviate our stress and worry, enabling us to relax and have clearer thoughts. Our moods as a result become more positive, helping renew our energy and rejuvenating our spirits. Yet according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, most people spend 93% of their time indoors.
In Japan, there is a practice of relaxation called shinrin yoku
“Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses.”https://time.com/5259602/japanese-forest-bathing/
The goal of forest bathing is to slow down, immerse oneself in the natural environment, open our senses and become aware of the smells, textures, sounds and sights. Growing bodies of research clearly demonstrate its impact including the reduction of blood pressure and reductions of stress hormones in forest bathers. https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html. While Japan developed the name forest bathing, many cultures have recognized the importance of spending time in nature on emotional and physical health. The practice of forest bathing has found widespread support around the world.
“Just being surrounded by bountiful nature, rejuvenates and inspires us.“– EO wilson (Theory of biophilia)
So how does one engage in forest bathing?
- Choose a place that invites you to explore.
- Turn off your electronics. This will provide a better chance to relax, be mindful and enjoy yourself.
- Take your time…..rushing diminishes your opportunity to experience what’s around you.
- Breathe deeply, telling your body that it’s time to relax.
- Walk slowly. Stop, and either standing or sitting quietly, open your senses to your surroundings. Be mindful and keep distracting thoughts at bay by noticing small activities or details. Do an emotions check and see how you are feeling being in such a nature-filled place.
- Open your eyes to the colors that surround you. Research has also shown that blue and green are relaxing colors.
- Begin with short increments of time, until you are comfortable and your schedule allows for it. The ideal goal is to build up to two hours.
“I go to nature to be soothed, healed and have my senses put in order.”
– John Burroughs
It is projected that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities. But if you don’t have access to a forest, all you need is a park in the city, a garden, a meadow, a beach, or even a tree in your backyard. The key element is making the time to be fully aware, mindful of what surrounds you. From firsthand experience, no matter how stressful our day has been, a walk outdoors always finds us returning home with a renewed sense of energy, joy and peace, with any of the prior frustrations and worries having melted away.
As always, we thank you for taking the time out of your busy life to read our blog. We welcome your thoughts and/or quotes that you find inspirational in the comments below. In the meantime, here are some additional quotes to inspire you to head outdoors.
In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.
Wendy Oellers-Fulmer & Ron Fulmer
QUOTES TO INSPIRE
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”– Albert Einstein
“When you bring your attention to a stone, a tree or an animal, something of its essence transmits itself to you. You can sense how still it is and in doing so the same stillness rises within you. You can sense how deeply it rests in being, completely one with what it is and where it is, in realizing this, you too come to a place or rest deep within yourself.”– Eckhart Tolle
“Spare time in the garden, either digging, setting out, or weeding; there is no better way to preserve your health.– Richard Louv
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”— Anne Frank
“Nature can be beneficial for mental health. It reduces cognitive fatigue and stress and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.”– Irina Wen, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and clinical director of the Steven A. Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center
“Nature isn’t a miracle cure for diseases, but by interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it and appreciating it, we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result.”– Lucy McRobert, The Wildlife Trust
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”– John Muir
Additional Information on Forest Bathing: