Developed in Japan during the 1980’s, forest bathing has become an integral part of Japanese culture.
Although the Japanese term ‘Shinrin-yoku’ translates to ‘forest bathing’, the practice is probably not what you think. There are no showers or bathtubs involved.
Similar to other forms of mediation, the idea is to spend time walking through forests, soaking up the atmosphere.
The idea is simple, spend time in a forest and you’ll feel calm, rejuvenated and restored, and it is backed by scientific data.
On the contrary to how it sounds, this tradition does not involve taking off your clothes to lie naked in the forest – although it is probably no coincidence that nudist communities congregate in woods.
Guided groups and forest bathing leaders, forest therapy guides, take people into the forest to walk, sit or meditate under the trees and, as a form, is now regarded as an important aspect of healthcare and healing. Through a series of invitations participants connect with nature through their senses.
It is even now recognized by health care professionals who prescribe this form of relaxation a remedy for stress and fatigue.
Further research into the practice has shown spending time in a wooded area has an overall positive effect.
Dr. Saima Latif, Psychologist at Psychology Direct said: “Spending time in a forest, boosts the immune system functioning, reduces blood pressure, reduces stress improves the mood and ability to focus, increases energy levels and sleep, allows deeper and clearer intuition, an increased flow of energy and an overall increased sense of happiness.”
Forest Therapy Guide at Forest Holidays, Charlie Houlder-Moat, goes on to add: “Forest Bathing is a natural wellbeing therapy that utilises the healing power of the forest. Just being in a forest can help to reduce anxiety and boost the immune system”.
However, forest bathing is no longer restricted to Japan. According to Forrest Holidays, the Google searches for the practice in the UK has risen by 247 per cent! Forest Bathing is also making headway in the United States.
It has been compared to where yoga was 30 years ago, so this trend is very likely to continue its upward trajectory as the western world seeks to balance screen time and stress.