Forest Bathing is Soul Food
No, you don’t have to get naked and roll in pine needles to try forest bathing. Maybe that’s legal where you live, but forest bathing is as simple as it sounds – going out and being in wild green space.
Forest bathing, called shinrin yoku in Japan where it began to be practiced in the 1980s, is being proven to help us recover from stress and heal both body and mind. It’s a powerful antidote to chronic stress, which has been called one of the biggest health risks in the 21st Century.
Study after study validates what we all feel out in the great green – being outdoors triggers chemical reactions that make us feel good. But those good feels go beyond our brains, and spending time outdoors has also been found to reduce blood pressure and the production of stress hormones. Psychologically and physiologically, nature heals.
With more and more of us living in urban areas, nature provides counterbalance to all the fast-paced, rushed lifestyles we find ourselves swept up in. Things slow down when we’re outside, and we can return to our senses. We can feel the breeze on our skin, or perhaps the warmth of sunlight. Maybe we can hear the birds singing, or the leaves rustling. The trees filter carbon dioxide into oxygen, and it just feels good to be breathing it all in.
When was the last time you spent some time in nature? Maybe it was this last weekend, or maybe you’re lucky enough to be able to pack a lunch to eat on a park bench near your workplace. Urban living means that not everyone has easy access to green space, so if you do, try to find a way to make a regular connection with mother nature, however she manifests in your neighborhood.
greening the urban jungle
If green space isn’t easy for you to access, you can bring the green to you with plants, either by keeping them in your home or office (check out these low light lovers), or by eating more plants to literally make their energy part of you. There is no shortage of research on the power of a whole food, plant-based diet, which is seen to be one of the best preventative lifestyle choices we can make. You can also try taking a mental nature break with yoga nidra guided meditation, or schedule an adventure away from the city on a wellness retreat.
Whether you want to call it forest bathing or nature therapy, it’s only natural that being outside is deeply healing for us. City living is a pretty recent development, and going back outside brings us back to the roots that sustained us for thousands of years before we all got online and started looking at screens instead of trees and plants.
If you live in the Salt Lake City area, join us this summer on our free community hikes along the Wasatch front. Sign up for our newsletter to stay in touch on the details for upcoming outdoor adventures, and see for yourself how good it feels to get outside.