Forest bathing is a term that sounds a bit magical; however, it means nothing more (or less) than being with trees in a mindful and receptive manner. You can sit or meander under the trees, no need to hike or exert yourself – nature appreciation in its simplest form.
Forest bathing originated with the Japanese phrase shinrin-yoku. Japanese researchers now have research results spanning several decades that document the beneficial effects of spending time with trees.
These are some of the positive physiological effects of communing with trees:
Forest bathing lowers heart rate and blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, boosts the immune system, and improves feelings of wellbeing. In a 2009 study, research subjects showed significant increases in natural killer (NK) cell activity in the week after a forest visit. The positive effects lasted a month following each weekend in the woods. NK cells are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20074458
It appears that by inhaling the phytoncide contained in the forest air (essential oils emitted by trees to protect themselves from germs and insects), our human immune system is strengthened as well.
Another Japanese university study took various biometric measures of subjects during a day in the city and compared them to the same measures during a day that included a half-hour forest visit. The researchers found that: “Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568835
In other words, we feel more rested and less stressed after spending time with trees.
One of the studies of the psychological effects of forest bathing found the following:
Almost 500 healthy volunteers filled out measures of hostility and depression, twice in a forest and twice in control environments. The subjects showed significantly lower hostility and depression scores, and felt much more alive, after exposure to trees. The researchers concluded that forest environments can be considered “therapeutic landscapes.” http://www.publichealthjrnl.com/article/S0033-3506(06)00146-6/abstract?cc=y=
Here at Emerald Mountain Sanctuary, specific trees seem to hold unique and distinct energies – we have stately oaks, wise maple trees, gnarly apple trees, spiky hawthorns, and many other trees to visit with. In fact, when Dan and I first visited this property with our real estate agent, I sat under a large oak tree for a while by myself. It was here I received the strong message that this was to be our land. I have no doubt that it was the oak tree that whispered to me.
Source for much of the info in this post came from: https://qz.com/804022/health-benefits-japanese-forest-bathing/
2 thoughts on “Have you heard of Forest Bathing?”
I’ve read other articles on shunrin-yoku but not so in depth nor from personal aspects. Connections, enchantment – the call of trees, Annette so beautifully described.
Thank you so much, Nature on the Edge! I am glad I was able to convey a bit of both the science aspects and subjective experience (through Grandmother Elm).