When you are feeling the effects of growing stress levels pressing down on you, what do you do for relief? If taking a walk in nature has been a practice, you already experience the benefit of forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku.
This ancient practice of visiting a forest and breathing in its air is used as a natural remedy for mounting stress and mental fatigue. The point is to take a trip into the forest to soak in and fully experience your surroundings.
Urbanization is increasing in our world, with estimates that 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. These environments are associated with increased anxiety and cardiovascular health concerns. Scientists have studied the benefits and discovered that forest bathing
- Increases immune function
- Reduces cortisol and increases parasympathetic nervous system activity
- Decreases scores for anger, depression, fatigue and confusion
- Improves heart rate variability and blood pressure levels
How to Forest Bathe (No Soap Required)
Any natural setting works, particularly wooded areas with conifer trees such as cypress, pine, cedar and juniper. It need not be a large area, but one where you can walk at a comfortable pace, explore the plants, sit in meditation, or even lie on the ground.
Any nature scene with trees is a good place to start. If you have local nature trails or a park, take a break and go exploring. If bugs may be a feature of that natural area, take a clean bug spray with you so that you aren’t distracted by their presence.
No forests in your area? That’s okay. Finding a place to stand or sit and breathe deeply under a single tree can provide some benefit. You can enhance this limited access with essential oils from the conifer trees mentioned above plus rosemary. And some studies indicate that adding frankincense to any of these further amplifies the effect.
Expand the Benefit with Earthing
Consider exploring the practice of earthing, either on its own or in conjunction with forest bathing. Also called grounding, this practice involves standing or walking barefoot on the ground – in grass, dirt or the sand on the beach. If your urban environment provides limited options, either look for a small patch of grass or sit in your basement with your bare feet on the concrete floor.
Earthing enables free negative electrons from the Earth’s surface to spread over and into your body where they can have antioxidant effects by neutralizing the positively charged free radicals so prominent in our bodies. One of many studies demonstrated that earthing reduced inflammation and pain, and increased the rate of wound healing.
Electromagnetic exposure from wireless devices, cell phone towers, and other modern technology saturates our environment. In our homes and work places we are subject to recirculated air and chemicals. Forest bathing and earthing give us a way to reset our natural electromagnetic fields and center our bodies.