3 Reasons You Should Be Forest Bathing

Does the stress of modern life ever make you feel like running for the hills? Maybe that’s exactly what you should do.

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is therapeutic in a lot of ways, and a growing number of studies back that up. To bathe yourself in the forest is to use all your senses to surround yourself with the colors, smells, sounds, and textures of nature and to let them wash over and rejuvenate you.

Spending time appreciating nature is good for body and spirit.

Integrative neurologist Maya Shetreat-Klein, who speaks on environmental health and toxins and healing with food and nature, practices shinrin-yoku and prescribes it for her patients. “It’s been transformative in my own life and for my practice,” she said.

Psychologist Lynn Johnson asks his patients to spend 20 minutes in nature several times a week. “I coach people on the value of savoring, or being focused on sights, sounds, aromas, and feelings as they are in nature. Get caught up as a child would and deep peace follows.”

3 Reasons You Should Be Forest Bathing

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1. Forest bathing can encourage positive emotions and help you de-stress

“I’ve noticed in myself and my own family that going into the forest for prolonged exploration, movement, and sitting has had profound effects on mood, attention, stress levels, and feelings of balance,” Dr. Shetreat-Klein tells Care2. “In patients, I’ve seen the same. Dramatic transformation in level of anxiety, activity, and improved focus, memory, and general mood. Beyond the beauty and mystery, it also offers opportunities to immerse in the elements of the natural world sounds of wind, trees, insects, birds, water which all are incredibly neurologically regulating.”

Research has found:

  • Nature is a natural stress reducer.
  • Green environments improve mood, self-esteem, and your general physical and psychological well-being. Even more so if there’s water around.
  • The color green may have something to do with the positive green exercise effect.
  • Taking in forest landscapes and other natural settings helps to lower your blood pressure and your pulse rate, and enhance your ability to relax.
  • Forest bathing can improve symptoms of anger, anxiety, and depression. It may decrease the risk of psychosocial stress-related diseases and have a positive effect on the immune system.

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2. There are no rules

Take a guided walk. Join a group of fellow forest bathers and embark on the adventure together. Bring your family. Take a solitary journey of mindfulness. Hike, fish, camp, stand, sit. It really doesn’t matter how you do it or what season it is. Oh, and you don’t really need a lush forest to benefit. Any woodsy area, park, beach, mountains, meadow, or garden can provide some of the same benefits. Dr. Johnson said for those who live in a city with no nearby parks, even growing and caring for herbs and flowers on a balcony can help.

It’s about letting nature speak to you.

3. It can make you feel small and part of the bigger picture at the same time

It’s easy to get caught up in the minute details of everyday life, so much so that we lose our connection to the earth, and when we do that, we’re missing out on something that is as peaceful as it is powerful.

Dr. Johnson’s advice is worth repeating: “Get caught up as a child would and deep peace follows.”

Savor it.

Related Reading:
How To Benefit from Meditation in 3 Minutes or Less
Improve Mood and Self-Esteem in Minutes with Green Exercise
Green Exercise Heightens Awareness and Appreciation

Sources
A multi-study analysis: What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health?
Review: Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function
Review: The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku: evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan
Study: Green space, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation?

Photos
woman w/sun shining through trees: betyarlaca/iStock/Thinkstock
girl in autumn leaves: evgenyatamanenko/iStock/Thinkstock
couple in winter forest: Maridav/iStock/Thinkstock

88 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry K1 years ago

Many thanks to you !

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Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Love the idea.Thanks for sharing

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Rose M.
Rose M1 years ago

Thank you.

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Sen Heijkamp
Sayenne H1 years ago

Very true I think. There is something with green. Calming.

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Brad H.
Brad H1 years ago

thanks

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Angela K.
Angela K1 years ago

Thanks for sharing

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Pablo B.
.1 years ago

tyfs. the pictures with happy people, who have sold me.

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Diane M.
Diane M1 years ago

Always need to recharge with a hike through a forest, especially in the mountains.

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Wonder G
Rekha S1 years ago

Thanks for sharing

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