I read an article over the weekend and happened to watch an episode of Countryfile as well, talking about this idea of forest bathing. This is an idea that is very popular in Japan. I think we could learn a lot from this. In Japan, they practice shinrin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere or taking in the forest through our senses.

What is Forest Bathing?

The idea is that you spend time in the woods, in the forest, literally bathing in nature. Letting nature come to you through all your senses. I spent quite a lot of time hiking in nature and in Woodlands in particular. I love the Woodland in autumn, I love the variety it offers at any time of year. But I don’t really spend time bathing in it.

I usually walk purposefully through it and I am going to change that and spend more time relaxing. Stopping, slowing down and breathing.

What are the Health Benefits of Forest Bathing?

Now the concept of forest bathing might sound a bit woo-woo but there are some really huge benefits that we already know through various studies. In Scotland, for example, they have been prescribing nature for the mental health benefits for quite a while now.

There is also something called Phytoncides that are emitted from the leaves and these have antibacterial and antifungal properties. By breathing in these phytoncides it creates an effect in the body of producing more white blood cells. In doing so, it is great for the immune system. As well as the immune-boosting health benefits element to forest bathing, I also just love the idea of bathing in nature. Of stopping and being intentional and getting these physiological chemical benefits as well.

I think it is an incredibly powerful idea. I spend quite a lot of time in nature with my dog. So we are going to stop, take in the surroundings, smells, touch and textures of nature and we’re going to take a less purposeful approach to being in nature.

So that’s it, a simple little idea.

Can You Go Out and Do More Forest Bathing?

Don’t let the weather put you off. There is no reason why a little bit of rain or some cold temperatures should stop us from going out and enjoying nature. There is this wonderful expression

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

So get the right clothing on. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on it. Often just adding in a couple of jumpers or a fleece layer will do and spend some time forest bathing. Find some areas near you. Maybe discover some new Woodland and get out there and enjoy those immune system benefits, but those mental health benefits as well.

Pretty much all of us could do with a bit of a boost in both those areas at this current time. 

This article first appeared in the January issue of SE22 Magazine.