Yup, you heard right: Forest Bathing. It’s an actual thing, and people are doing it all over the world.
Just the same way you would bathe in water or bathe under the sun, Forest Bathing is the practice of lying, or walking, amongst the trees to enjoy the benefits they bring to your physical and mental wellbeing.
The practice, which originated in Japan (where it is called shinrin-yoku) is actually quite familiar to us. Though it may not have an official name here in the UK, walking in nature has long been an favourite pastime; with most of us enduring family woodland strolls as children, only to revert back to them eagerly as wildlife loving adults.
And it’s not just a fun day out. Spending dedicated time in the company of trees has been proven to be good for our health. Trees are the Earths original air cleansers; soaking up city pollution, helping to cool increasing urban temperatures, and pumping out fresh new Oxygen which literally keeps us alive.
A thriving forest is not only one of our cheapest, and prettiest, tools for carbon offsetting, and a vital space for biodiversity, it provides the natural resources we need to survive.
Converts of Forest Bathing also claim the practice is good for your mental wellbeing. It has shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and can be very healing for those needing to switch off from the world and reconnect with themselves.
With almost 80% of us now living in urban communities, and fewer households enjoying their own green spaces, our time amongst the trees is declining. We now spend more time looking at screens than leaves, and climbing public transport escalators that branches on a tree. Have we lost our connection with nature, or even worse: ourselves?
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.” Lord Byron,
If you feel like you see more grey than green, struggle to breathe in stuffy cities, or wake up with a heavy feeling in your stomach , maybe Forest Bathing is for you.
5 Easy steps to Forest Bathing
- Find a park, urban forest or wild woodland near you.
- Research your trail options based on how much time you have to spare; whether you’re looking to ‘bathe’ for 5 minutes, or 5 hours.
- Switch off your phone (or even better leave it at home). This is a time to step away from social media, not time to take pictures to post on it! You’ll be grateful you left it behind, I promise!
- Awaken all your senses. Take slow deep breathes in. Notice the clean air. Stand still. Listen to natural sounds around you. Look up. See the wildlife in the trees and count the varieties of green. Touch the bark of the biggest tree you can find. Marvel at its ancient strength and hidden history.
- Do it regularly. It may not come up high on your weekly to do list, next to grocery shopping and visiting your gran, but Tree Bathing is something you should try to incorporate into your life. Even if you tie it in with a weekend walk and country pub lunch with friends, or take your running off the treadmill and into the park. You’ll be sure to see a noticeable difference in your physical health and mood in no time!