What is forest bathing?
Many societies have recognised the value to human beings of connecting with nature. However, the intriguingly named art of forest bathing originated in Japan. Popularised there in the 1980s and known in Japanese as ‘shinrin-yoku’, forest bathing was intended to improve the nation’s health and stop burn-out. This was particularly given the country’s technology boom, and also to inspire people to protect their forests. Despite its name, forest bathing does not involve water. Simply put, forest bathing is a relaxation practice that means spending time outdoors in nature and using all your senses to improve your wellbeing.
Health benefits of forest bathing
Spending just 20 minutes outside every day is meant to be very good for our health, making us feel mentally happier as well as physically healthier. Our experiences during lockdowns in the pandemic confirmed to many of us the importance of spending time in nature for our mental as well as physical health.
Many of our guests choose to come to our beautiful forest site as they love the great outdoors and thoroughly enjoy walking – whether it’s a gentle stroll or a proper hike of several miles. From the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail and The Shropshire Way to short circular walks in picturesque villages and parishes, our guests are spoilt for choice.
The good news for anyone who doesn’t particularly enjoy walking is that just sitting outside is enough to reap many of the benefits of forest bathing.
How does forest bathing improve our wellbeing?
Forest bathing is credited with improving heart health and lowering blood pressure. Mentally, it’s meant to improve your ability to concentrate and reduce anxiety levels. It’s even associated with improving sleep quality too.
There are various theories as to how forest bathing actually helps all these things. Perhaps it is being exposed to chemicals released by trees called phytoncides – they protect trees from pests and disease so perhaps they benefit us too, boosting our immune system.
How to indulge in forest bathing
Whatever the reason it works, why not give forest bathing a go? You won’t need your mobile phone – leave it in your lodge or turn it off. Allow at least two hours, although any time will still be of benefit. Walk slowly through the forest or find a place to sit or lie down to relax. Take deep breaths and listen to the sound of your breathing. Touch the trees. Take note of what you can hear, from the sound of the wind rustling the leaves to the birds singing, what you can smell and what you can see. Enjoy thinking about how the forest makes you feel.