A Japanese practice that has been growing in popularity all over the world, forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) is literally the art of wandering aimlessly through green expanses just soaking up the vibes.
More than just a walk in the park, there’s a meditative philosophy behind shinrin-yoku. Forest bathing is an opportunity to connect with nature, letting everything go to notice the sound, sight, smell, sensation and even taste of lush green surrounds. TL;DR – turn your phone off and lose yourself in nature.
It is important to find a place that suits you.
Most of us could do with a little more time relaxing in parks, forests and green spaces as we dart about our busy lives. In Australia, it’s estimated we spend as much as 46 hours per week staring at screens. While in the US, it’s estimated Americans spend 93% of that their time indoors. As more of us become city-dwellers – and our cities grow larger – it seems more and more imperative to ensure we limit screen time and increase our green time.
Author of Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, Dr. Qing Li says forest bathing is something anyone can do regardless of fitness, age, location or occupation. Guided or unguided, people can forest bathe anywhere.
“When it comes to finding calm and relaxation, there is no one-size-fits-all solution – it differs from person to person. It is important to find a place that suits you. If you love the smell of damp soil, you will be most relaxed where the natural landscape provides it. Then the effects of the forest will be more powerful. Maybe you have a place in the countryside that reminds you of your childhood or of happy times in the past.
These places will be special to you and your connection with them will be strong.”
We all feel the benefits of some green time but there’s actual science behind it. Dr Li has published two studies that show benefits to cardiovascular and metabolic function in middle-aged men, as well as how forest bathing can enhance natural anti-cancer proteins. While the subjects in these studies spent more time forest bathing than most of us can squeeze into the standard work week, among the results were significant increases in scores for vigour and decreases in scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety and confusion. Li suggests that one two-hour bath a week is enough to bring relaxation and disconnection from technology.
How to forest bathe
- Leave your phone and camera at home, or at least turn your phone off and leave it in your bag.
- Find a place with abundant green – the biggest city park, your nearest national park, a local nature reserve.
- Aimlessly stroll and everything in to hone all five senses on the nature around you. Notice the sound of the wind through the trees, the dappled sunlight streaming through the canopy, the varying shades of green – soak it all up.
- When you feel ready, just like a bath, you can return to the hustle and bustle.
Looking to create your own soothing oasis at home? Find inspiration in our looks in the Plant Life Balance app and then get gardening – reducing screen time and increasing your green time. Download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play.