When you think of bathing, water immediately comes to mind. The Japanese art form of forest bathing, however, encompasses bathing in a completely different way. Through mindfulness and the use of your five senses, this type of nature therapy allows you to soak in the natural environment around you, which in turn, can lead to amazing health benefits, both physically and mentally!
Read on to find out why this scientifically-proven form of nature therapy is trending in the Western world, with doctors, forestry commissions, and even royals getting on board!
What is forest bathing?
Originating in Japan in the 1980s, Shinrin-yoku forest therapy was invented by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture and has become an essential preventative healthcare method in Japanese medicine. Shinrin-yoku translates to "taking in the forest atmosphere," or "forest bathing," as its now known in Western culture.
"Taking in the forest atmosphere" is the best way to explain this form of holistic medicine and what it encompasses. The idea is to truly immerse yourself in nature, to be present and engage your senses, in order to allow you to reconnect with a calm and mindful approach. Many people take hikes or treks throughout the forest; however, the concept of forest bathing requires a much slower-paced walk, quietness, and a form of meditation for you to feel its healing benefits.
Why you should give it a try
For many years, forest bathing has been used as a form of medical treatment in Japan—so much so that it’s now a part of their national health program. The proven health benefits of forest bathing have plenty of research to back them up, largely thanks to the foremost expert in forest medicine, Dr. Qing Li, who through years of research has discovered the following that it:
Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
Strengthens the immune system
Improves cardiovascular health
Improves metabolic function
It’s true that nature is undeniably peaceful, from the soothing sounds of birds and streams to the incredible aromas of flowers and plants, so it’s not hard to see why this type of therapy has so many benefits on your mental and physical well-being. Just think about how relaxed you felt the last time you were in the middle of nature, taking in your surroundings without any distractions or disturbances. This is what forest bathing is all about!
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Dr. Li has written a book on the subject called, "Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness," which will give you an in-depth look on how forest bathing can improve your overall well-being and how you can incorporate nature therapy into your daily routine.
Where to go forest bathing
Talk about trendy! Even the British royals are embracing forest bathing. The Duchess of Cambridge co-designed a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where she sourced inspiration from this treatment of Japanese origin and the benefits it brings to the table.
Here are some tips for connecting with nature and getting the utmost from this form of therapy:
Find somewhere in nature tailored to you.
Engage your senses.
Slow down your pace.
Take advantage of the silence.
Explore with no destination.
Forest bathing is an individual experience that everyone will do and benefit from in different ways. If you need a kickstart to your own nature therapy journey, there are many programs to help guide you through your journey, no matter where you’re based in the world.
Forest bathing sounds like the perfect activity to incorporate into your glamping adventure, so get ready to leave your vacation feeling extra rejuvenated and ready to tackle whatever life throws your way!