Forest bathing is one for of nature therapy that is practiced in Japan called shinrin-yoku. It is translated as “taking in the forest,” or more simply put “forest bath.” Forest bathing along with other nature therapy treatments sometimes referred to as ecotherapy, is a wonderful way to make the most of your time in nature. Grab your essentials to get ready for a rejuvenating and healing experience.
Travel to a wooded area with plenty of trees to forest bathe. It does not require exercise or any strenuous hiking. It is simply being in nature. You connect with the forest through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. There are actual childcare centers that use cedar wood chips in their play areas to help soothe youngsters. Similar to consuming essential oils made from plants, trees and flowers, forest bathing can be “taken in” by simply taking a walk through the forest or spending time immersed in nature. You want to shut off all of your electronic devices. Walk slowly and relaxed through the woods with no goal other than moving through the natural landscape. Studies show people are more relaxed and less likely to stress after a forest bath.
Nature meditation is another way to practice ecotherapy for improved health and wellness. There are several forms of nature meditation. One way to practice nature meditation is by sitting silently in a natural setting concentrating on your breath while opening your senses to the environment around you. This can be done alone or as a group with other people interested in nature meditation. Another form of nature meditation is identifying with an aspect of nature that relates to you. You spend a few minutes contemplating a withering flower as an example. You may relate to a withering flower if you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness. You reflect on how the withering flower will propagate and create several more flowers in its place. This may bring feelings of hope and prosperity although something has ended.
Activities that involve working with plants such as planting seeds, weeding, trimming, pruning or digging soil create a greater sense of connection with the earth. When connecting with the earth this may uplift your mood and promote an overall sense of wellness. Studies show this is beneficial to those who may have social isolation, social anxiety, addiction, PTSD or under extreme stress. You can take this one step further and start a garden at home or travel to farms to volunteer your time to give horticultural therapy your full attention for extended periods of time.
There are many ways to incorporate nature therapy and forest bathing into your life. The best part is, it doesn’t require much more than simply being in nature by surrounding yourself with it. If you don’t live anywhere near a forest or a natural landscape, make it a point to travel somewhere serene where you can go for the day or on an overnight camping trip. Be sure to pack your trip essentials and get ready to melt the stress away!