Ahh … time for forest bathing!

I think everyone has experienced this (am I right?): You have a terrible day (or week, or month), then you go to the woods or your favorite trail and … almost magically, you feel a noticeable lift in your spirits. I’ve experienced this so many times that I truly make an effort now to listen to my inner self when I’m needing to reconnect with the natural world and seek out peaceful “me” time in nature.

I’m not the only one. “Forest bathing,” as it’s called, is an actual, real practice with scientifically measurable health benefits (including reducing stress and depression, lowering blood pressure and upping your immune system). The term is a literal translation of the Japanese term shinrin-yoku. And how wonderful is this: Japan has nearly 50 official Forest Therapy trails.

Elizabeth Weil in the December issue of Vogue writes, “In 1982, the Japanese Forestry Agency put forth the idea that if the nation’s stressed and depressed citizens—the Japanese have among the highest suicide rates in the world—would just walk their forest therapy trails, they would soak up the sensory splendor and soothe their weary minds.” Studies have since been conducted worldwide, and the results have been so positive that many are rethinking how a holistic approach like this can help treat a variety of psychological and emotional problems.

One of the leaders in the ecopsychology movement is Richard Louv, author, journalist, Audubon Medal winner and co-founder of The Children & Nature Network, which aims to get kids outside and reconnected to nature. He’s written several books, including these (which look like great reads!):

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder: On how vitally important it is to “unplug” our kids and get them back playing outside.

last child

The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life in a Virtual Age: Offering inspiration and explanations on why adults need nature, too (not just kids!).

nature principle 2

What are your thoughts on forest bathing? As for me, I think I have some “redwoods bathing” to get to. …

{P.S. This article offers more info on forest bathing experiments, plus 10 tips for ensuring a “proper” forest bathing experience (scroll down a bit to get to the tips).}

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Kathleen Prasad

Kathleen Prasad is an entrepreneur, author, educator, spiritual seeker and animal advocate living in beautiful Marin County, California, with her husband, daughter, dog and two horses. She loves being with animals, listening to hip-hop, eating out at vegan restaurants, riding dressage, hiking in the redwoods and traveling the world to meet animal people.
You can learn more about Kathleen here.

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Comments (5)

  • Avatar

    Linda Rae

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    I loved this article! Now it’s scientifically proven what us nature nuts have known for years! Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Kathleen Prasad

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      Haha yes the nuts have been proven correct 😉 Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for being a part of our heartful community 🙂

      Reply

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    Frans Stiene

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    Thanks Kathleen,
    Great article.
    Love to go into the mountains and forest and seek union with it.
    Love
    Frans

    Reply

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    Lisa

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    I wa raised next to a Minnesota hardwood forest. I went there often to calm and sooth myself, and recover from a dysfunctional family. My comfort with nature is something I will always treasure.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Kathleen Prasad

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      What a blessing to have that forest nearby to provide healing for you as you grew! Thanks for sharing Lisa 🙂

      Reply

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