When I first heard the term “Forest Bathing”, I assumed it was a version of skinny- dipping, but instead of jumping naked into a lake it meant hanging out naked in the forest. I was wrong. Forest bathing has nothing to do with what you are or aren’t wearing.
Forest Bathing comes from the Japanese phrase, “Shiron-Yoku” which means, “to take in the atmosphere of the forest.” Forest bathing has become increasingly popular due to its positive impact on human health and well-being.
How do you forest bathe? The answer is very simple.
1. Go to a forested area.
2.Leave your phone behind so you can be fully present in the experience. I know it can feel uncomfortable to be without your phone so you can bring it just in case of emergency. Just resist the urge to check it mindlessly.
3.Walk slowly and quietly. This is not about exercise. Let yourself wander wherever you are called to go.
4.Focus on your senses. Notice the colors, textures, smells, and sounds around you. Let yourself be guided by curiosity. If you feel called to sit down under a tree or walk off the trail to take a closer look at something then just go do it.
5.When you feel ready to head back to your car, stay quiet and continue to walk quietly.
Some of the scientifically proven health benefits associated with forest bathing include:
▪Reduces stress and anxiety
▪Improves ability to focus including helping with ADHD
▪Boosts immune function
▪Lowers blood pressure
▪Improves body image
▪Increases happiness and well-being
I have long noticed how much healthier, happier and more alive I feel after spending time in the woods. I loved learning that there are studies proving the importance of spending time in nature. It’s something I believe we all need to do more often.
One of my favorite summer memories was taking my boys for a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.
While hiking on the trail my younger son, Alex, stared at my older son and calmly said “Justin, you are so much happier when you are outside.” He sounded so wise and observant when he said it, and Justin knowingly smiled and didn’t say anything back.
This statement stood out to me for a couple of reasons. One is because it was so true. Another reason it stood out to me is that it can be hard to find the time to go into the woods (and often even harder to get our kids away from electronics), however, it is incredibly important that we do so.
We all need a break from our daily routine, the news, social media, and other distractions. All of these things can drain us, increase our stress, and in turn negatively impact our health.
We need time to slow down and reconnect with nature and our bodies.
Forest bathing is the perfect way to get started.