Have You Heard of Forest Bathing?

Let the forest sink deep within...

"This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing." It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine." -Shinrin-yoku.org

The Japanese have been studying the scientific affects of taking a walk in the forest. It may seem silly, or maybe it sounds intuitive. Maybe you know the calming effects of nature. What is amazing is how it is physiologically measurable. Their studies have shown that the stress hormone cortisol reduces by 30%! 

"One study published in January included data on 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called “Shinrin-yoku,” or “forest bathing.” On one day, some people were instructed to walk through a forest or wooded area for a few hours, while others walked through a city area. On the second day, they traded places. The scientists found that being among plants produced “lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,” among other things.

A number of other studies have shown that visiting parks and forests seems to raise levels of white blood cells, including one in 2007 in which men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells. And another found an increase in white blood cells that lasted a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air," New York Times.

How delightful that something we instinctively know to be true has been studied so it can reinforce our choice to get out into nature for a bit. If you need permission to make time for this, you now have it. Go ahead and let the atmosphere of forest seep deep within as you slow your breath and open your senses to the gift around you.

Time for a walk? Let's go!

Happy Bathing!


P.S. See below for my literal forest bathing at a special cottage get-away. It was exquisite!