How Forest Bathing Boosts Your Mental Health

23 April 2021
A woman walking on a forest path in Autumn

For over forty years, the Japanese have practised Shinrin-yoku, which is also known "forest bathing".

Forest Bathing has exploded into a global phenomenon, attracting followers worldwide and increasing in popularity.

The main idea behind Forest Bathing is that you simply spend time in the middle of a forest, using your senses to connect with nature.

What Are the Benefits?

Studies of Forest Bathing suggest many positive health benefits, including:

  • Reduction in stress compared to urban environments
  • Improvements in mood
  • Increased creativity
  • Improved immune system
  • Avoidance of high blood pressure
  • Quicker and easier recovery from illness

From a mental health perspective, the opportunity to reduce your stress and improve your mood makes Forest Bathing something you should try at least once.

The general health benefits of Forest Bathing also makes it an ideal candidate for including in the tools for supporting your all-round wellbeing.

How to Forest Bathe

The beauty of Forest Bathing is that all you need is a forest and yourself to get started.

Once you've arrived at the forest, there are some simple things you can do for maximum relaxation:

  • Take it slow. Walk through the forest at a gentle place, absorbing everything you see around you.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, which will encourage your body to relax.
  • Turn off all your electronic devices so you can relax without the outside world disturbing you.
  • Focus on everything you can see, hear, smell and hear. Pay attention to your feelings as you make your way through the forest.
  • Occasionally, stop and be still for a few minutes. Absorb the beauty of the forest around you and relax both your mind and body.
  • Stay for as long as you can, up to two hours, for an immersive Forest Bathing experience.

As with any physical activity, Forest Bathing may not be suitable if you're unable to walk short distances, which may be a factor if your mobility is restricted.

While you can Forest Bathe year-round, you will find spring, summer and autumn provide a more enjoyable experience than the depths of winter.

Visiting the forest on dry days is also recommended for you to get the most out of your trip.

All of your group should be eight years of age or older, and you should only Forest Bathe in private woodland if you have the permission of the landowner.

Where to Forest Bathe

If you live in a town or city, Forest Bathing provides an excellent opportunity for you to get out of urban areas and connect with nature. In the United Kingdom, you can find forests within easy reach of all major towns and cities.

Local forests are ideal for taking your first steps with Forest Bathing because you'll be able to minimise travel times and costs. You're never far away from a forest, so if you're visiting another area, why not check out the nearest woodland?

Forestry England offers an easy to use search facility to help you find forests in England.

You can also locate forests elsewhere in the United Kingdom, in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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