When I have gone long enough without being outdoors, I start to crave it. I can almost taste the fresh pine in my mouth I miss it so bad. It is only so long before I must go. Not necessarily for a taxing hike, but to just be in the woods. To walk, breathe and take it all in. Turns out the sheer act of being in the forest has a name: it is called "Forest Bathing", or "Shinrin-Yoku". It seems inherently obvious that going for a walk in the woods to escape city stress and to chill would be healthy for you, but what is neat is these health benefits are currently being quantified into actual scientific evidence.
So what is Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing)?
Go to a forest. Walk slowly. Breathe.
Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese noun that translates "a visit to the forest for relaxation.". Shinrin-yoku has also been known more recently in our western culture as "Forest Bathing". This therapeutic practice combines spending time in nature with mindfulness (my kind of activity!!).
Shinrin-yoku was developed in Japan during the 1980's and has grown into a pivotal aspect of preventative health care and healing in Japan. There has been much research conducted in Japan, and a large body of evidence supports the health benefits of spending time in living green spaces.
Shinrin-yoku couldn't get any simpler. You visit a forest and walk around in a relaxed manner, all while taking in the forest atmosphere. It is all about immersing your senses into the beauty of nature for therapeutic value.
Numerous studies have found that spending time in nature mindfully, is not only beneficial for calming the body and mind, but also has a significant effect on the immune system.
Some of the health benefits of Shinrin-yoku are as follows
- Decreased stress
- Decreased anxiety
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased immune function
Since purchasing my Thermarest hammock, forest bathing has become even easier and more relaxing! We love to find a quiet spot in the woods, bring a big wool blanket, hot tea, a book and curl up in the hammock. It doesn't get any better than that!
So this holiday season, bundle up, grab your loved ones and head for the woods!