“Forest Bathing doesn’t involve soap or water. It’s not about skinny dipping or swimming in a river.
It dates to the 1980’s in Japan and has become a foundation of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. It is now considered to be one of the top relaxation activities not only in Japan but around the world as well. In Japan the term is called “shinrin-yoku” which translated into English means “forest bathing”. Anytime you walk amongst trees without a purpose of rushing off to a set destination is considered forest bathing. It is the idea that the exposure to nature reduces stress, depression, anxiety and creates a positively calming neuropsychological effect. I recently tried out this practice in the Tokai forest, leaving my phone at the office and just taking in the nature that surrounded me.
At first it was hard for me to switch off and relax, but after a few minutes of deep breathing, I forgot about the pressures of the day and started to unwind.
Living in Cape Town has its advantages, there are so many open spaces and outdoor areas which are perfect for this. If you are office bound, and not near a forest, try heading to your local park to experience your own version of forest bathing”.
“Forest Bathing” Benefits
Studies have shown that “Forest bathing” –
- Improves your mood and overall feelings of wellbeing.
- Reduces stress.
- Improves cardiovascular health.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Is a source of inspiration.
- Improves immune system.
- Allows you to breathe in oxygen rich air.
How to reap the benefits of forest bathing:
- Find an area filled with trees.
- Don’t wear a watch or rush the experience.
- Use all your senses to smell the fresh air, see the trees, hear the leaves, feel the ground, and if you’re brave enough taste the leaves (just be sure you correctly identify the leaves you taste).
- For safety reasons always inform someone of your plans or rather go in a group.
- Be sure you know the forest or trail in your area.
- Pack water and a snack.
- Wear proper walking shoes.
- Bring along waterproof attire (especially in Cape Town where the weather changes constantly).
So after a stressful day, why not spend time in nature, take in the atmosphere for the rejuvenating and calming benefits of “Forest Bath”