Forest bathing - that term sounds a little odd. When I first heard it I pictured a man in a clawfoot bathtub full of bubble bath singing in the middle of a forest. Don't judge. I had no idea. And perhaps you aren't really sure what forest bathing is either.
Forest bathing is the "medicine" of simply being in the forest. It's a type of therapy that originated in Japan. Essentially, it involves going into a forest to take time to unwind and connect with nature. It's a legitimate therapy because even doctors in Scotland are now prescribing time in nature as a form of healing therapy. Do you spend time in nature? Do you feel like it benefits you? I sure do. So what are some of the benefits of forest bathing?
It Can Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk
Several studies have shown that time spent "bathing" in the forest has been able to help reduce the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and soothe stress levels. Forest bathing also has an anti-inflammatory effect because it increases adiponectin levels in the body, which can help heal blood vessels and reduce the risk of heart attack.
It Can Lower Obesity Rates and Diabetes Risk
Adiponectin is also connected to lowered risk of obesity and diabetes since it can have a positive impact on insulin resistance. Forest bathing has been shown to reduce glucose levels in people, even if they only got into the forest once a month.
It Can Help You Sleep Better and Increase Energy Levels
Spending time in the forest is revitalizing. It literally triggers hormones such as melatonin that help us get into a deeper, more relaxed state of sleep. It has also been shown to calm the mind by reducing cortisol levels. So if you're feeling stressed and drained of energy, go find a forest and spend time in it.
It Can Reduce Depression and Anxiety
Forest bathing is a mood booster. This is one of the main reasons it is now being prescribed by some physicians. It's an alternative therapy to harsh medications used to fight depression and anxiety.
It Can Decrease Overall Inflammation
Breathing in the fresh air of the forest is much healthier for you than city air. The trees of the forest provide you with oxygen-rich air and cleans the air of carbon dioxide. Those who suffer from breathing problems like asthma and COPD have shown improvement in symptoms by spending some time in a forest breathing in fresh air. There are compounds in the air that can reduce lung inflammation.
It'll do you some good to find a forest near you and spend some time in it. Soak in the natural environment and really appreciate it. Sit or lie on the ground. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot if that's possible. Try to find forest edibles if you can. Close your eyes and meditate while you're there. Try to do this at least once a month if that's an option for you. If you don't live close to a forest, that's not a problem. Any open natural area such as a large park with trails will do the trick.
Is forest bathing something you'd like to try?