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The practice of forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, is the act of immersing oneself in nature, specifically forests, for the purpose of promoting health and well-being. This practice has gained popularity in recent years, as people have recognized the numerous benefits that can come from spending time in nature. In this blog post, we will discuss why one should consider a practice of forest bathing and how it can benefit our mental and physical health.
Promotes relaxation and stress reduction
Spending time in nature, specifically forests, can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that forest bathing can decrease cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress, in the body. The study also found that participants who spent time in the forest reported feeling more relaxed and at ease. Additionally, spending time in nature has been shown to lower blood pressure, which is often elevated during times of stress.
Boosts immune system
Spending time in forests can also boost our immune system. Trees and plants release chemicals called phytoncides, which have antimicrobial properties. When we breathe in these chemicals, our bodies increase the production and activity of natural killer cells, which play a crucial role in our immune response to infections and cancer. A study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology found that participants who spent time in a forest had increased natural killer cell activity for up to 30 days after their visit.
Increases energy levels
Spending time in nature can also increase our energy levels. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that participants who spent time in nature reported feeling more energized and less fatigued than those who spent time indoors. This may be due to the increased exposure to natural light, which can regulate our circadian rhythms and improve our sleep quality.
Improves mood and mental health
In addition to promoting relaxation and reducing stress, spending time in forests can also improve our mood and mental health. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that participants who spent time in nature reported lower levels of anxiety and depression than those who spent time in urban environments. Additionally, the study found that the benefits of forest bathing were greatest for individuals who were predisposed to negative thinking or rumination.
Enhances creativity and cognitive function
Spending time in nature can also enhance our creativity and cognitive function. A study published in PLoS One found that participants who spent time in nature performed better on a creativity task than those who spent time indoors. The study also found that spending time in nature can improve our ability to focus and sustain our attention, which is crucial for cognitive tasks such as studying or working.
Connects us with nature
Perhaps most importantly, spending time in nature can connect us with the natural world and promote a sense of awe and wonder. In a world that is increasingly focused on technology and material possessions, it is easy to become disconnected from nature and its beauty. Forest bathing allows us to slow down and appreciate the natural world, which can promote feelings of gratitude, awe, and reverence.
How to Practice Forest Bathing
Now that you understand the numerous benefits of forest bathing, you may be wondering how to incorporate this practice into your life. Here are some tips for practicing forest bathing:
Find a forest or natural area that speaks to you. It may be a local park, a nature reserve, or a nearby forest.
Leave your phone and other distractions behind. Forest bathing is about immersing yourself in nature, so it is important to disconnect from technology and other distractions.
Take your time. Allow yourself to slow down and be present in the moment. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest
Considering all the remarkable benefits of forest bathing, I sincerely hope you’re able to get out into nature and try it out for yourself very soon. Give yourself some time and make it an adventure.
Happy Forest Bathing!
Ben Beresh is a designer, filmmaker and co-founder of MossyBrain. Originally from Niagara Falls, ON, he now happily calls Broken Arrow OK home, along with his wife Jessica, four kids and dog Charlie. Ben likes to have a good time, all the time (Enneagram 7), as well as eating all types of sandwiches.
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