Forest Bathing - A Simple Key to Good Health

Friday, July 28, 2017

Forest Bathing // www.thejoyblog.net

Have you heard about this new type of self-care that's being talked about? It's called Shinrin-yoku, which roughly translated from Japanese is Forest Bathing, and it's not what you think. It's not taking a bath in the forest, although, I bet that would be nice as well. It's about wandering aimlessly through a forest, and being present in the moment. Paying attention to the sights, sounds, smells, and the energy present there.

It began in Japan as a way to reduce the high stress in people's lives. Doctors began recommending regular Forest Bathing sessions, and it worked.  Blood pressure levels began to go down in people that practiced this method of nature-based self-care. 

One 2011 study actually looked at the effects of forest walking versus walking in the city. Both walks required similar physical activity, but the research showed that those who walked in the forest actually had significant reductions in blood pressure and even stress hormones. For those that experience a lot of stress on the regular, this is a big deal.

Forest Bathing // www.thejoyblog.net

It's not super difficult to understand why this happens, if you've ever lived anywhere with a lot of greenspace, you know just how important it is for locals to wander through. Getting out of the harsh lines, smells, and sounds of city life makes us feel like we can take deeper breaths. After all, for millennia, we didn't spend our entire lives inside or glued to tech screens. We spent our days working outside surrounded by nature. 

Researchers also found another reason why this can help, other than the major peaceful factor that comes with forests. Trees actually release compounds into the air that some research has shown to be beneficial for people to breathe in -- such as the scent of cedar. These compounds are known as phytoncides, and actually were shown to reduce stress hormones and improve the performance of white-blood cells, which keep you feeling much healthier!

Forest Bathing // www.thejoyblog.net

While, I've never set out with the exact idea of Forest Bathing in mind, I often crave the green spaces that are everywhere in Utah. I tend to be a bad hiking buddy, in that I like to meander. I don't like to power up the mountain. I want to analyze the plant life and what is growing where. I like to see if I can identify plants in the wild, and I love to admire the sights and sounds, and I often comment on the fresh clean air smell. If anything, I just want to take a blanket up there and lounge in the shade. 

Forest Bathing // www.thejoyblog.net

As a lifelong resident of our great state, I grew up camping, hiking, and learning to love the great outdoors, and am so thankful my parents taught me to get outside.  There are so many great trails in our mountains and it's just a short drive to serenity. Why try to power through them when you can spend the time wrapped up in the beauty of it all, and reduce your blood pressure and stress-levels in the process?

Forest Bathing // www.thejoyblog.net
Forest Bathing // www.thejoyblog.net

I challenge everyone reading this to a forest bath, and to report back to me on how it went. 

+ Please comment below! 


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