Forest bathing is a practice that may help reduce stress and restore our sense of calm. The modern-day lifestyle tends to encourage overworking and spending inordinate amounts of time in front of screens whether at work or at home. This has led to many mental health concerns as well as people feeling continually stressed, irritable, or disconnected from others. In the 1980s, Japan introduced the idea of forest bathing as a way to reverse some of the effects of hectic lifestyles and help reconnect the public with nature. The research supporting the benefits of nature on our overall health is mounting every year.
Consider Forest Bathing
Forest bathing is called shinrin-yoku in Japan and involves consciously taking in the presence of the forest atmosphere by engaging all of the senses. Although a forest is not accessible to everyone, the overall principles and practice can be applied in any natural environment. A garden or local park may a more accessible option for many people. The main goal is to make a deliberate and conscious connection with nature. Your body will benefit from this practice.
Connecting With Nature
Practicing forest bathing is a simple task. Start the practice by quietly moving through the landscape. Take a moment to notice the air around you and how it feels passing through your lungs with each breath. There may be different scents coming from the soil, the plants, or the trees around you. Take a moment to notice and explore these. Explore the surfaces and textures of the plants and trees around you. Take a conscious look at the colors, light, and shadows around you and consider their differences. There are many ways to engage your senses. Spend time freely exploring through all of your senses. Taking this time will help to recenter your body and mind.
Reaping the Benefits
Research shows us that we need to spend at least two hours out in nature every week to take advantage of the long-term health benefits. Forest bathing helps to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue while also promoting relaxation throughout the body. The practice also helps strengthen the immune system, clear the lungs, and improve the health of the cardiovascular system.
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