Forest Bathing as a Form of Medicine

forest bathing

According to Wikipedia, Forest bathing is the practice of taking a short, leisurely visit to a forest for health and wellness benefits. The practice originated in Japan where it is called shinrin-yoku.

Studies in Japan have measured changes in immune markers and stress hormones in individuals who regularly walked in certain forests in Japan.  The people with diabetes for example, who were not taking insulin, found substantial benefits by lowering blood glucose levels.

Studies in Japan have measured changes in immune markers and stress hormones in individuals who regularly walked in certain forests in Japan



What is Forest Bathing?


Originally, the idea of forest bathing was created by the Japanese and it was called Shinrin-yoku.  Forest bathing in the simplest way explained is the process of immersing oneself in nature for a period of time by walking or sitting in a wooded area.  Invented in the 1980’s as a kind of therapy that now is at the very core of Japan’s preventive health care and wellness.

Invented in the 1980’s as a kind of therapy that now is at the very core of Japan’s preventive health care and wellness

In the modern world, much of our time takes place in the office or other industrial space, and it’s easy to comprehend how many people can neglect the connection with nature. But when this connection isn’t there, we create for ourselves all kinds of physical and psychological problems and issues.

Studies have proven that the act of forest bathing can hugely mitigate the risk of depression, infections, and insomnia.  More importantly, Because stress is the culprit as the central cause of heart disease and cancer, the lowered stress levels that forest bathing triggers is the perfect activity for creating and maintaining optimal wellness.

Forest bathing gives you the opportunity to take a breath and release and turn your thoughts away from the life’s daily stresses and strains that everyone usually face on a regular basis. The great thing about forest bathing is that it only requires a short period of time that can put into even the most hectic of schedules.

 

5 Easy Steps to Forest Bathing

forest bathing

 

1.)  Block out, and plan for, a certain amount of time.

30 minutes is a good amount of time to spend forest bathing.  Of course, in a perfect world, one would be able to spend many hours walking through the woods like a modern-day Thoreau.  Unfortunately, for most of us this isn’t possible or even practical.  The good news is there are few ways that you can get some many important wellness benefits, even on a short time budget.

 

2.)  Combine with Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a common practice associated with forest bathing and is a great way to really zero in on yourself and the surroundings. In particular, focusing on the sounds, sights, smells of the forest will open the mind to the smaller things that you often are not aware of because of the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. Pause and appreciate the birds singing, the wind rustling in the leaves and even more importantly appreciate the time by yourself and the others, if you choose to go with.

 

3.)  Switch your phone off

Forest bathing is not a convenient way of finding a quiet place for making calls and texting.  Take the time to turn off your cell and sit quietly with your thoughts and feelings. When time is precious and you don’t have very long to do forest bathing, best to remove all distractions of daily life to get the most from the experience.

 

4.)  Pack a snack or lunch

Rather than taking your lunch at your desk or your dinner parked in front of the TV or YouTube, take it out to the park and make a picnic out of it. It is the ideal way to get in your forest bathing when you are super busy, while also taking the time to enjoy the meal you are eating.  Make it a point to take a fresh and green meal to be able to immerse in your environment and look after your health.

 

5.)  Go rain or shine

Walking or sitting in the forest is way more pleasant when it is nice outside for sure.  However, by doing forests bathing when the weather isn’t that great, you’ll often find that there will be less people around. Having the forest all to yourself will give you the time to really chill into your thoughts without unwanted distractions.  Also remember, most trees will protect you from the worst of the wind and rain.

 

 

Forest Bathing Benefits

forest bathing

In a 2005 and 2006 study in regarding cortisol, it reported how walking or sitting in a forest can decrease the amount of stress hormones in the body. Yoshifumi Miyazaki, from the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University in Japan, conducted 24 experiments with four other researchers, which took place in several locations.

In a 2005 and 2006 study in regarding cortisol, it reported how walking or sitting in a forest can decrease the amount of stress hormones in the body

 

There were 12 participants, Japanese college men, ranging from 20 to 23, who were divided into two groups. During the experiment, the men lived in identical rooms and ate identical meals. On the first day, 6 men went to a city location, and the other 6 went to a forest location. On the second day, participants switched locations. When at the locations, the men sat in the area for 12 to 16 minutes, and then they walked around the area for 11 to 21 minutes. The results show that the amount of salivary cortisol was much lower in the participants who had been in the forest location. There was a 13.4 decrease in cortisol after sitting in the forest and a 15.8 decrease after walking in the forest. Also, the pulse rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and sympathetic nervous activity decreased when the men were in the forest location.

There was a 13.4 decrease in cortisol after sitting in the forest and a 15.8 decrease after walking in the forest. Also, the pulse rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and sympathetic nervous activity decreased when the men were in the forest location

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