Forest bathing can be combined with other wellness practices to form an encompassing routine for total health. Medical scholars study changes in physiological and psychological indicators to demonstrate its healthcare efficacy; while forestry scholars investigate its environmental factors for human health promotion.
Studies demonstrate the impact of being in nature on activating the parasympathetic nervous system and making us feel calmer physically and emotionally. More field experiments need to be performed in order to establish optimal therapeutic exposure times and standard forest bathing programs.
1. Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Forest bathing is a form of relaxation which has been found to lower blood pressure and stress hormone cortisol, while simultaneously increasing adiponectin production (which controls fat metabolism and glucose levels), and can even enhance blood flow.
Tree-borne phytoncides like limonene and pinene contain anti-inflammatory compounds that also boost autonomic nervous system activity, providing relaxation.
One study revealed that participants who went on a forest walk experienced significantly reduced anxiety and depression levels as well as lower resting heart rates and blood pressure.
To practice Shinrin-yoku, locate a safe natural area without distractions and take a slow walk through it. Focus on each sense as you use them all: the scent of woods and trees; bird calls and water sounds; feeling tree bark beneath your feet and touching soil are all vital for sensory immersion. Gazing at photos can also work! It is also essential that appropriate attire be worn; also beware of plant and animal hazards during your outing.
2. Improves Your Immune System
Stress can produce numerous physical symptoms such as headaches, body aches and anxiety. One effective method for relieving stress is spending time outdoors – forest bathing (also referred to as “Shinrin-yoku”) can be an excellent way to do just this.
Studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of Shinrin-yoku to both improve your mood and strengthen your immune system by increasing natural killer cell activity, as well as relax you by decreasing both blood pressure and heart rate.
Forest bathing can also help increase concentration and foster creativity. Furthermore, forest bathing may reduce cortisol levels while increasing feelings of calmness.
To maximize the experience of forest bathing, it’s essential that all electronic devices are powered off and you find a place without distractions. Pay attention to the sounds and scents of nature as you listen for sounds like birds chirping, smell the air, touch trees, rocks, mud and grass (but avoid any that might contain poisons!), take your time exploring your surroundings and enjoy every second.
3. Helps You Sleep Better
For those suffering from sleep difficulties, spending time in a forest setting may provide much-needed relief. Japanese mindfulness practice known as Shinrin-yoku has been shown to increase your ability to relax and sleep through its mindfulness practices; additionally it also lowers blood pressure which may prevent cardiovascular disease.
Although “forest bathing” may sound intimidating, you don’t need to visit one specifically; any natural environment with plenty of greenery and no noise sources will do. What matters is switching off devices and fully immersing yourself in this experience.
Experts advise beginning with short sessions and gradually increasing your exposure to nature over time. Aim for 120 minutes each week; even five or 10 minutes can make a positive difference in mental wellbeing. You can take this challenge on your own or with a certified forest therapy guide leading a group.
4. Lowers Your Stress Levels
Forest bathing has been proven to reduce stress levels and bring you peace of mind, regardless of the environment in which you’re situated. Forest bathing typically involves leaving devices behind and exploring natural environments while practicing mindfulness techniques.
Shinrin-yoku originated in Japan during the 1980s after leaders saw an increase in mental health issues associated with people spending too much time indoors. Shinrin-yoku is not simply hiking; rather it provides an immersive experience designed to connect you with nature using all five senses and promote mindfulness.
While forest bathing on your own can be beneficial, for maximum effectiveness it is best done under guidance. A certified guide can plan a route, set an easy pace and offer prompts that engage all five senses. Plus you’ll gain from sharing this experience with like-minded participants all exploring nature in new ways together!