I ran across an article this weekend that seems to be all the rage. I had never heard of it but it appears to be popular worldwide since at least 2018. It began in Japan in the 1980’s to bring awareness to nature and the protection of the forest.
In Japanese shinrin means “forest” and yoku means “bath”. So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere. Forest bathing, I thought how would one do something like that? Well, it turns out it is not a “bath” per se in the manner that we think of bathing. It means to take in the forest atmosphere through our senses.
It is not the same as hiking or any form of exercise such as jogging. It is simply a way to connect with nature using our senses of sight, taste, smell, hearing, and touch. It is said that if we open our senses, it can fill the gap we have between us and the natural world.
It is estimated that by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that the average American spends more than ninety percent of their time indoors.
For good health, we all need a little sun and fresh air. There are amazing health benefits in this evidence-based activity. It resets your stress button by improving mood and energy. It can significantly mitigate the root cause of many ailments such as headaches, heart issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, skin issues, and so much more. It will boost your immune system just by reducing your stress levels.
Sounds wonderful but how do you do such a thing? Find a place in nature where you can wander aimlessly. It is advised to leave behind your phone, camera, any device that would bring you distraction. Allow your body to be your guide. Listen to where it wants to take you. Follow your nose, savor the sounds, smells, and sights of nature, and allow the forest to come in. Allow nature to enter through your senses by listening to the birds singing, leaves rustling through the breeze. Enjoy the beauty of the different colors and shades filtering through the sunlight. Smell the fragrances of nature. Touch the trees or dip your toes in a stream. You will feel calm all over you. This is your sixth sense, a state of mind. You have now connected with nature and crossed the bridge of happiness.
There are groups around the world where they do this together. They are asked to not speak during the walk. Just take it all in and after they can discuss their experience that each of them felt. These walks are about two hours long but it does not even take that much time to enjoy it on your own. You can reap many health benefits just by a forty- minute walk on your own or with a friend.
If you are fortunate to live in an area that can give you that daily take advantage of it. Even if you can only do twenty minutes a day you will feel the difference immediately. We all have times in life that stress us out and this is an inexpensive and easy way to destress.
This is just another way of getting people outdoors and enjoying all that nature has to offer. If that brings us a little better health in doing so, there is nothing wrong with that.