Developed in Japan in the 1980s, Shinrin-yoku means taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing, and it is gaining popularity in the United States. When forest bathing, you probably will not get wet, and you might not even have to leave your own back yard. More than just a walk in the woods, it is a way to mindfully reconnect with nature, taking people out of the physical and mental structures in which we spend so much of our time.
We live in a stressed-out culture. Work related stress accounts for almost $200 billion in US health care costs. This stress is caused in part because we spend most of our time indoors, in artificial environments, and are bound to electronics of all kinds.
Studies have shown that being outdoors can reduce stress hormones and blood pressure. Remember, children need time in nature too. Time that is not filled with structure, electronics, or organized sports. They need time to just “be”.
Here is a quick forest bathing “how-to.”
- Leave your phone behind or turn it off.
- Walk outdoors without a purpose or destination in mind.
- Look for details in nature such as bark, twigs, cones, rocks or wildlife.
The next time you start to feel overwhelmed, take a forest bath and let the calming force of nature wash over you.