Forest Bathing: how nature can improve your quality of life
Life can be stressful and everybody needs to relax and pamper. Nature can totally be a loophole to escape problems. Indeed, researchers in Japan and South Korea have demonstrated that simply being surrounded by nature may improve your general health, by both reducing the feelings of stress and its impact on our body (cortisol, high blood pressure, energy) and minds (mood, sleep, focus). During the 1980s, forest therapy (named Shinrin-yoku) was developed in Japan and now the concept is spreading throughout the world.
The idea of forest bathing is that by spending quality time with nature, you can increase your mental and physical well-being. Of course, if you live in the city, it won’t be an easy task to incorporate aspects of forest bathing into your day, especially knowing that the recommended timing is 2-4 hours per session! But even if you manage to organize a longer nature chilling session one day per week, you can receive some health benefits.
How to do it?
Find a quiet place to settle yourself in the middle of nature (it might be in the forest, in a sprawling field, next to a river or even in the quiet corner of a park).
Obviously, pack away any distracting device (phone, camera, etc). Sit, take off your shoes, and breathe. The connection of your feet to the earth are really important to ground and connect.
Try to connect with nature with your five senses, one at a time by feeling, listening and touching the environment around you (listen to the tall grasses moving, the birds chirping, touch the grass, feel the sun on your skin, etc).
Spend the most time you can outdoors
Even if you live in the city, you can try to spend time outside and breathe fresh air (for example during your lunch outside if it’s a nice day). Exercising could be also a good opportunity to spend time outdoors. Go running or training in the park or in the garden! When you can do it, avoid the transports and go by foot!
Bring the nature in your house
If you don’t have access to natural spaces, invite nature to your place! This also forms part of the Shinrin-yoku therapy! Add plants, able to survive, in your living place, Moreover, plants clean the air you are breathing!
You can also opt for reed diffusers or essential oils (as cedar, fir, sandalwood or pine) or nature sounds (rainforests, ocean waves, crickets, etc). It’s also important to keep the air fresh and clean by opening the window (make the air circulate).
If you are interested in knowing more about this kind of therapy, you can read the book of Dr. Qing Li who digs into the Japanese concept of Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing).