Recently I read an interesting article in the Woodland Trust's magazine 'Broadleaf' that talked about the charity's first ever forest bathing outing in East Sussex. Elisabeth Garton, Editor of ‘Broadleaf’, explains more. She says “everyone knows a walk among trees gives you a mental boost, but the Japanese have turned that feel-good vibe into a science. Thirty years of research underpins the study of shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’, which advocates a more mindful approach to enjoying nature.”
Intrigued I decided to investigate the concept. The word shinrin-yoku was coined in 1982 by Tomohide Akiyama, Director of the Japanese Forestry Agency. It can be translated as 'forest bathing' and is used similarly to 'sunbathing'. You don't take a bath rather you bathe in the environment of the forest, using all your senses to experience nature up close.
According to research led by Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki, the simple act of walking in a forest can deliver significant therapeutic benefits. These include: improvements to a weakened immune system, increased relaxation due to a reduction in the sympathetic nervous system activity, decrease in blood pressure after only 15 minutes of forest therapy as well as promoting a heightened sense of wellbeing and easing the feelings of stress.
Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki has written an informative book on the subject entitled ‘Shinrin-yoku: The Japanese Way of Forest Bathing for Health and Relaxation’. You can also read more about the health benefits of living with trees by downloading the free report by the Woodland Trust called ‘Healthy Woods … Healthy Lives’.
Why not try a spot of forest bathing over the Festive period and then cultivate a walk in the woods – or any green space - as a regular habit. Living in Kent, I am fortunate to have easy access to beautiful ancient woodlands. Walking helps clear my mind and enables me to relax fully. I am always grateful for the chance to savour the sounds, aromas and colours of the forest and the life contained within it.
Reflecting upon this encouraged me to donate to the Woodland Trust this year instead of sending Christmas cards. The Woodland Trust has planted over 41 million trees since 1972. The charity has protected and championed woodland for four decades. Through their work, they give nature a chance to thrive by joining up habitats to create corridors for wildlife so transforming our landscape and making the UK a healthier place to live.
You can find out more about the Woodland Trust via their website:
I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy Peaceful and Healthy New Year.