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Take a walk on the wild side: The benefits of forest bathing

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Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, means “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It is a practice that has been used for centuries in Japan to promote physical and emotional health. Forest bathing is simple: you walk through the forest and connect with nature.

by David Stone

for Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

Forest bathing: crop woman in bath in forest
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The Benefits of Forest Bathing

The benefits are many: forest bathing can improve your mood, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost your immune system. If you are new to forest bathing, follow these simple steps to learn how to forest bathe effectively.

Whether you are looking for a way to reduce stress and anxiety or simply want to improve your health and well-being, forest bathing may be the perfect solution.

This practice, also known as Shinrin-yoku, simply involves taking a forest walk and connecting with nature. To forest bathe effectively, start by choosing a time of day that works best for you.

The most ideal time is early in the morning or just before sunset to take advantage of the cool and calming forest atmosphere. Next, dress appropriately: wear comfortable, breathable clothing, and don’t forget to pack a hat, sunscreen, and extra water.

When forest bathing, it’s important to follow some basic etiquette. This includes leaving no trace behind you while walking through the forest, keeping your voice at a low volume so as not to disturb the forest atmosphere, and avoiding areas that are closed off or marked as unsafe.

Additionally, it’s important to keep safety in mind while forest bathing. Make sure you are fully prepared with a first aid kit and any necessary medications, take note of any potential hazards or dangers in the forest, and always stay on marked trails to avoid getting lost or injured.

What is forest bathing?

It is a practice that can be done anywhere there are trees and plants. Forest bathing has many benefits, including reducing stress, improving moods, reducing anxiety, improving heart health, and improving sleep quality.

Forest bathing can be done by taking a walk in the forest, sitting among the trees or even lying on the ground. The key is to be present and focus on your senses. Take in the sights, smells, sounds, and textures of the forest. Let the forest provide a natural source of calm and relaxation.

How to…

Forest bathing originated in Japan and involves spending time in nature to promote relaxation and stress relief. Find a comfortable spot in nature and take some deep breaths. Listen to the sounds of the forest and feel the breeze on your skin. Spend at least 20 minutes to reap the full benefits.

You can forest bath alone or with friends or family. Just disconnect from technology and allow yourself to fully relax into the experience.

The best time of day to forest bathe

person walking between green forest trees
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The best time of day to forest bathe is early in the morning or late in the evening. This is when the air is the most fresh, and there are fewer people around. If you can, try finding a forest that is away from city noise. 

To forest bathe, simply find a spot and stand still for a few minutes. Breathe deeply and focus on your surroundings.

Notice the different smells of the forest and the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind. Allow yourself to relax and take in the peace of nature.

What to wear

This practice can be done anywhere there are trees and plants. There are a few things you will want to wear when forest bathing to make sure you get the most out of the experience.

First, comfortable clothing that you can move around in easily is important. Wear layers so you can adjust to the temperature as needed. Second, closed-toe shoes are a must to protect your feet from sticks and debris.

Third, consider wearing gloves if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to certain plants. And finally, don’t forget your sunscreen!

Etiquette

When forest bathing, be mindful of proper etiquette. Whether you are forest bathing alone or with a group, be respectful of the forest and its inhabitants.

This means maintaining a quiet and calm demeanor and not littering or disturbing anything in your path. Practice caution, as forest bathing can sometimes lead to deep introspection and even could inadvertently cause one to stray from the path.

Safety tips

When it comes to forest bathing, there are a few key safety tips that everyone should keep in mind. Most importantly, it is crucial to always be aware of your surroundings.

This means being mindful of any obstacles or hazards on the forest floor, as well as avoiding dense undergrowth where snakes or other wild animals may be hiding.

Remember that forest bathing is a slow and deliberate process, so you should always take your time when moving through the forest and avoid rushing or becoming impatient.

Additionally, it is important to be properly prepared before heading out into the forest for some time alone; this includes wearing appropriate clothing and packing plenty of food and water.

Some forest bathing testimonials…

Forest bathing has been linked with increased levels of serotonin, the “happy hormone.” While the exact mechanisms behind the forest’s ability to promote health are not fully understood, it is clear that spending time in nature can have a profound impact on our well-being. Below are some testimonials from forest bathers:

“After a few minutes of forest bathing, I already felt my stress levels dropping. I felt more relaxed and at ease.”

“I never realized how good it would feel to just be surrounded by trees and nature. It was like a weight was lifted off of me.”

“I always thought of forests as being dark and scary places, but this experience has changed my perception completely. Now I see them as places of peace and healing.”

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