What is Forest Bathing?

We can all relate to something magical happening during a walk in the woods — when you first breathe the fresh air, smell the scent of the trees, or feel the sunlight on your face. But did you know that spending time in nature can also boost your immune system, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being? As it turns out, being outdoors packs a powerful punch.

Slowing down

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku as the Japanese call it, is simply the act of “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It was the 1990s when researchers began studying the benefits of being in nature and surmised that we all need to be doing more of it. And it’s not just a walk in the woods that has benefits. Getting “a dose of nature” can just mean sitting quietly outside, mindfully taking in all that surrounds you. One of the main tenants of forest bathing is to move “at a deliberately slow pace” and encourages someone to savor the sounds, smells and sights of nature.

Health benefits

Trees, as it turns out, emit essential oils called phytoncides. And there is a lot of research that suggest these oils help increase immunity, lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation and improve sleep. One Japanese study even showed a rise in specific immune cells that fight viruses and cancer for those who spent three days and two nights in a forest. And this increase in immunity lasted for more than a month after the trip!

Frame of mind

Other research suggest exposure to trees and nature also improves psychological health. Time in forests or woodlands can lower cortisol levels which is the hormone involved in stress. It has been expressed that forest bathing is akin to a “balm” for mental health because it has the ability to slow down the fight, flight or freeze response, which is often on high alert for those with anxiety. It can also break the cycle of rumination, worry or obsessive thinking. It gives our brain time to recharge and refocus on the here and now.

Go outside

To sum it up, forest bathing is a simple way to relax and revitalize as well as improve your overall health. Sadly, most of us live hectic lives that can take a toll on our health, happiness and relationships. Consider planning your next walk in the woods with us. We have specifically designed our landscape hideaways as a place you can “let the forest in.”

Next time you’re outdoors, here are some mindful questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you see?
  • Are there different kinds of trees here?
  • Do you hear birds nearby singing?
  • Can you hear the crunch of the leaves and twigs on the ground as you walk?
  • Can you hear the silence?
  • Did an animal scurry somewhere nearby?
  • Do you feel the rustling wind?
  • Do you feel your body as you walk?
  • Can you breathe in the scent of the trees?
  • Can you inhale and exhale deeply?
  • Did you notice the sky above you and its shade of blue?
  • Can you feel your connection to the forest?
  • Can you reach out and feel the softness of the leaves or the sharpness of the pine needles? 
  • Do you sense peacefulness?
  • Can you savor the time you have here?