There’s something so inspiring and refreshing about the warm spring and summer months that naturally draws us outdoors. From the songs of birds singing overhead to the kaleidoscope of colors from the surrounding landscape in full bloom—it’s a feeling not always easily put into words.
Still, pressing pause and stepping outdoors often feels like more of a luxury than something to put into practice regularly. But what if this “luxury” might help us find the focus, energy, and motivation we all need to greet our busy days with the vibrancy needed to succeed?
Forest bathing, also known as forest therapy, is the latest wellness practice we’ve been diving into this season, and we’re excited to share what we’ve learned about it—including the potential wellness benefits that it offers.
What is Forest Bathing?
Considered a form of ecotherapy, forest bathing is a term that took hold in the 1980s. Originating in the eastern hemisphere, it stems from the combination of the Japanese words shinrin (“forest”) and yoku (“bath”); together, the phrase loosely translates to bathing in a forest environment or taking in the forest through our senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing.
In effect, forest bathing can be viewed as little more than allowing yourself to fully experience the forest—or any place where you can simply connect with nature—within your community.
The Benefits of Forest Bathing
Spending time outdoors is generally considered a great way to decompress. Still, there are other surprising wellness benefits of routine forest bathing that are worth considering when the goal is to improve your overall well-being.
Some studies have shown that forest bathing for as little as twenty minutes can lead to a decrease in salivary cortisol levels, which is the hormone that rises when we’re under stress. Other studies suggest that forest bathing can help:
- Lower both blood pressure and heart rate, thereby inspiring the mind and body to relax
- Lower blood cholesterol
- Kickstart germ-fighting cellular activity within the immune system
- Boost your mood, and
- Improve overall sleep quality and wellness
It’s important to note that the potential benefits listed above are largely dependent on how much time you spend outdoors (most guided forest bathing sessions, for example, can last as long as three hours) and, in many cases, are still being researched.
Considering this, we recommend checking in with your doctor or a trusted health professional before determining if forest bathing is right for you based on your current health and wellness goals.
But for all intents and purposes of our exploration today, the essential takeaway is this—when it comes to breaking away from the humdrum of our working lives to find some reprieve, a little fresh air can do the mind, body, and soul some good.
How to Practice Forest Bathing
Keeping the idea of completely immersing yourself in the natural world in mind, we think it’s helpful to note that one of the main components of forest bathing is that it’s done in as relaxing a manner as possible.
But what exactly does it look like, and how might you regularly put it into practice in your own life?
We take establishing a solid forest bathing practice to mean that, beyond engaging in a gentle walk to open the senses and drink in the forest sights, sounds, and fresh air as much as possible, nothing else is required. This means no additional exercise or strenuous activity should take place during your session.
In other words, walk as slowly as you feel like walking until you find a restful spot to take in the scenery. Feel free to bring a meditation pillow or blanket to sit on so that you’re comfortable enough to be still and allow the forest to envelop you completely, as it should.
But make sure to leave your phone and other tempting or noisy distractions at home. At the end of your time spent outdoors, completely unplugged and away from your busy schedule, you’ll be thankful that you did.
Better Wellness at Purecare
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