Re-connect with nature and unwind from the stresses of everyday life by trying forest bathing on your next visit.
What is forest bathing?
Despite its name, forest bathing has nothing to do with water. It is, in fact, a mindful practice that involves spending time in a wooded environment and using all five senses to connect with your surroundings. Forest Bathing was developed in Japan in the 1980s and is known as Shinrin-yoku. ‘Shinrin’ means forest and ‘Yoku’ stands for bathing. Forest bathing has been gaining popularity in the UK recently; it was even one of the inspirations behind the Duchess of Cambridge’s garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2019.
Why is forest bathing good for you?
Connecting with nature allows the stressed portions of your brain to relax. Positive hormones are released in the body making you feel less sad, angry and anxious. Forest bathing can alleviate stress and lower blood pressure while heightening feelings of awe and gratitude.
Where can I forest bathe?
You can practise forest bathing in any safe natural space. Westonbirt Arboretum is the perfect setting to use your senses to find things in nature that bring you peace and happiness.
How to forest bathe
As with any new experience forest bathing takes time and practice to be fully immersive – however, there is no right or wrong – go at your own pace and enjoy the time to re-connect to yourself and nature. Below are some tips to get you started.
- Turn off your devices to give yourself the best chance of relaxing, being mindful and enjoying a sensory forest-based experience.
- Slow down. Move slowly so you can see and feel more.
- Take long breaths deep into the abdomen. Extending the exhalation of air to twice the length of the inhalation sends a message to the body that it can relax.
- Stop, stand or sit, smell what’s around you, what can you smell?
- Take in your surroundings using all of your senses. How does the environment make you feel? Be observant, look at nature’s small details.
- Sit quietly using mindful observation; try to avoid thinking about your to-do list or issues related to daily life. You might be surprised by the number of wildlife inhabitants you see using this process.
- Keep your eyes open. The colours of nature are soothing and studies have shown that people relax best while seeing greens and blues.
- Stay as long as you can, start with a comfortable time limit and build up to the recommended two hours for a complete forest bathing experience.