The outdoor business! ….this simple Japanese practice of forest bathing could be the key to leading a better life….but can it make you healthier?
Article by the Drummond team
Called “Shinrin-yoku” – a form of nature therapy that originated in Japan, is getting attention and gaining popularity here in the UK. What is it, and whats it all about? Can it really make you healthier?
The activity originated in Japan in the 1980s as shinrin-yoku, sometimes translated as nature bathing. The idea, more or less: go be in nature, a little more deliberately than usual. Open your senses. Inhale some pine. Caress an acacia. Sound pleasant? Good, because it has caught on!
You forest bathe for all the reasons we’re sure you already know: our busy-ness, our email and social media overload, our general disconnect from nature. Way back in 2001, an Environmental Protection Agency-sponsored survey reported that Americans spend 87% of their time inside, plus another 6% in an enclosed vehicle – that was nearly 20 years ago, and doubtful that’s improved!
Well, there’s good news – recent studies have shown that dedicated nature time doesn’t just feel good, it is good. Shinrin-yoku started taking root after research showed it to have actual proven health benefits. One study found that forests “promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments”. Another found it has a positive imp on both physical and mental health; it significantly decreases levels of hostility and depression among subjects who spent a regular amount of time in forests.
Forest bathing is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Indoors, we tend to use only two senses, our eyes and our ears. Outside is where we can smell the flowers, taste the fresh air, look at the changing colours of the trees, hear the birds singing and feel the breeze on our skin. And when we open up our senses, we begin to connect to the natural world.
So go on – hug those trees!
Source: The Times. / The Guardian.com