forest bathing

The transformational power of walking your dog mindfully

Walking your dog is so great in so many ways: It’s great exercise, you spend quality time with your pooch doing what they love best, you get to breathe in fresh air, and dog-walking has even been shown to reduce stress and build your sense of community. But here’s an easy way to amp up your daily ritual and make it even more powerful: walk your dog mindfully.

When we think of mindfulness, we think of stillness, meditation, awareness and savoring this very moment with a full heart. Now incorporate these mindful intentions next time you walk your dog—and get ready to watch the many benefits unfold!

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 …