It is the practice of bringing attention and awareness to your senses and body, in a forested environment. From listening to the rustling leaves to feeling the sun on the back of your neck, and overall the fresh, clean air. It is said that this form of revelling in nature can be healing for both your mind and body.
Studies have shown that it helps to stabilise blood pressure, reduce stress hormone levels, and strengthens the immune system. According to an article published in the Greater Good Magazine who interviewed Qing Li, a medical doctor and researcher who ran a study on the effects of forest bathing on middle-aged Tokyo office workers – who tended to suffer sleep deficiency due to high levels of stress if it (forest bathing) would help them sleep better.
The article states that “during the study, participants walked the same amount of time in a forest that they usually did in a non-forest setting on a normal working day. After a walk in the forest, participants were significantly less anxious, slept better, and slept longer. In addition, researchers found that afternoon walks were even more beneficial than morning walks.”
Note: Forest bathing is not the same as hiking.
If you’re wondering where to start – the best place to go is somewhere you are already familiar with; it could be as simple as your local park. Start the practice in the morning, between 7am to 9am and spend about one to two hours taking in the surroundings. All you have to do is to slow down and focus on the natural landscape surrounding you; engage your senses, noticing things including smell, touch, sounds, taste and sight. Consider switching off your phone and allowing yourself to be present. Remember to stop often.