Have you heard of forest bathing? Well, even if you answer no, you most likely have experienced it. Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku or forest therapy, is a way to unplug and take a step back from your stressful life.
Forest bathing is about relaxing, taking comfort, and connecting with nature. So, no worries – forest bathing does not have to include exercising. You can forest bath anywhere and anyway you want! Take a walk, hike, or even sit in a forest – as it looks different for everyone, how you forest bath is up to you!
Being in nature is not a new idea for society, but Japan recognized the mindfulness practice and created the term Shinrin-yoku in the 1990’s. Shinrin-yoku was created for people to practice mindfulness surrounded by nature and to connect with their senses (touch, smell, sounds), and to increase people’s liveliness.
Forest bathing has been proven to be beneficial to both your physical and mental health. Being surrounded by nature can increase your more energy, better sleep, have mood-boosting qualities, increase your happiness, reduce stress levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, clearer skin, boost immune systems, and speeds up recovery from illnesses. Forest bathing also reduces anxiety, depression, and anger.
The positive benefits of forest bathing are endless – so why are people not taking advantage of the scenery around us?
A study that was completed by the Environmental Protection Agency has shown that the average American spends 93 percent of their time inside. It is also predicted by 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population will be living in a city.
The positive benefits of forest bathing are endless
This tells us there are too many people staying inside instead of experiencing the positives of being outdoors. Staying inside for too long can lead to opposite effects of forest bathing: increased anxiety, increased depression, decrease in happiness, increased stress levels, lower immune system, and more. So, lets get you forest bathing!
How does one go about forest bathing as a Seafarer?
First, find the perfect location that is right for you. This could be just being outside alone, taking in the nature that comes with being on the Sea/Ocean, and finding a park or forested area when you are on shore – basically, any type of meditation outside can be considered as forest bathing.
Listen to what is around you: trees moving, waves coming and going, grasshoppers chirping, birds singing, planes flying above, and the animals (in your case, probably sea animals) around you. Feel what is around you: wind, grass, branches, and the ground you are walking on or sitting on. Smell the scents around you such as the flowers, salt water, and trees. And finally, use this time to forget about whatever stressful things are going on in your life and live in the moment.
If you are struggling with mental health, addiction, or are happy – forest bathing is for everybody and can improve your physical health, mental health, and can improve a person’s happiness. Let’s try Forest Bathing today!
Counsellor/Social Work Placement