Tribe, have you tried Forest Bathing yet? And no it doesn’t mean taking a wet dip in a pool in the wild, haha! Although it could include that - if that’s your jam!
I’ve been spending a lot more time in wild nature with family, friends, clients and school children over the past couple of years - and this fitness trend in ecotherapy has really been a mind-shifter on where some of the missing pieces are as it pertains to our mental health, physical health, wellness and education! It’s been a remarkable journey.
Going through Covid with our world was rough but figuring out how to live well outdoors and reconnect with our loved ones was one great thing that came from it for many communities.
Curious yet? Okay let me explain this captivating practice. It’s the art of immersing oneself in the healing atmosphere of the forest - a profound way to reconnect and unlock its exceptional ability to invigorate your mind, body, and soul.
Though present in many regions worldwide, one root traces back to ancient traditions from Japan. "Shinrin-Yoku," meaning forest bathing or taking in the forest atmosphere, has gained recognition worldwide for its unique health and wellness benefits. While the rest of the Western World’s blood pressure statistics are on the rise, Japan has seen a significant drop over decades in high blood pressure cases since implementing this practice as a medical prescription (yes, medical prescription) to combat societies’ increase of busyness and exposure to screens and technology.
In a nutshell, research studies have shown that Forest Bathing or Forest Medicine practices have had a positive impact on Japan's health index, including improvements in mental health, cardiovascular health, and overall well-being (Li et al., 2020; Tsunetsugu et al., 2017).
So how do you forest bathe?
Beyond a simple hike in the woods, it is an invitation to engage with nature’s embrace through awakening your senses to see, listen, touch, breathe, reflect and even taste.
Picture yourself going barefoot or in a pair of comfortable walking shoes and venturing into a lush, verdant forest—each step unveiling a world of wonder and sensory delights.
As you wander amidst towering trees, flickering sunlight, and vibrant hues of wildflowers - you pluck a berry, feel the texture, take a deep breath, and let the forest's fragrant aroma fill your lungs as you listen attentively to the rustling leaves, trickling creek, and the chorus of birdsong.
Do you feel the picture yet?
Again what makes Forest Bathing truly remarkable is its health benefits. This immersive experience could very well add to your wellness arsenal to help lower stress levels, decrease blood pressure, increase immune killer T-cells and increase overall well-being.
Forests emit natural essential oil compounds called phytoncides, which, when inhaled, have been found to support the immune system and promote relaxation. Additionally, the tranquil atmosphere and soothing green hues of the forest have a calming effect on our minds, easing anxiety and rejuvenating our mental focus and clarity. (Park et al., 2010); Li et al., 2008); Tyrväinen et al., 2014) ; Berman et al., 2008)
So here’s my challenge - especially if you don’t have immediate access to the woods. Get to a park, pond, lake, ocean - wherever your most nature-possible environment is - and give yourself permission to slow down, to be present in the moment, increase your sense of appreciation, and apply all the sensory principles of Forest Bathing.
I’ve personally enjoyed guiding Forest School activities (learn more here) as well as planning Passion Barre and Santu Stretch sessions in the Forest!
Whether you embark on a solitary expedition or gather loved ones for a shared adventure, nature awaits, ready to nurture your senses and restore your hope and vitality.
'Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and planning our forest escapade soon!
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Your uplifted, purposeful, resilient and resourceful state is everything, and I am obsessed with helping you learn how to sustain and flourish in it.
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