Forest Bathing

25 October 2020

We’re all seeking new ways to improve our mental wellness and escape the challenges and stresses that life throws our way. Forest Bathing has become a popular pastime in recent years for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle and soak up the peace, beauty, and abundance of the great outdoors. Despite its name, you won’t need to pack your swimsuit to experience it.  

Red and golden maple leaves with light behind them

Forest Bathing or ‘shinrin-yoku’ was originally coined in Japan in the 1980’s after researchers discovered that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and improve concentration and memory. The research also uncovered that trees release an immune-system boosting chemical called phytoncides — which eventually led to the Japanese government sanctioning ‘shinrin-yoku’ as a national health programme. 

Lately in the UK, we’ve seen a huge rise in people heading out to wander in nature and discover what it means to practice ‘mindfulness’ in their own way. With this in mind, we’ve curated some helpful hints and tips which should help you to enjoy the experience as much as possible. 

  • Don’t mistake a forest walk for exercise — Whilst you are walking and it will be good for you, you don’t want to rush. The idea of forest bathing is to slow down and soak up the beautiful rays of sunlight being cast by the canopies, the beautiful sounds of the wind rustling through the trees and the busying of the wildlife.
  • Pick a quieter time of day — Go when you feel less people will be around as it will really help you switch off and soak up the atmosphere. Try earlier in the morning or later in the evening, and perhaps avoid school holidays.
  • Turn off any electronic devices — The point of forest bathing is to escape the outside world, so don’t let it disturb you during this peaceful time. 
  • Use all of your senses — Breathe deeply and take note of the scents of flowers and plant life, textures, and sounds such as crunching leaves and birdsong.
  • Take your time and focus on your breathing — Slow your pace, find a nice spot under a tree to sit for a while and gather your thoughts,.

Why not find some beautiful places to explore your own forest bathing experience? The National Trust website can help you to locate a forest near you.


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