It’s inarguable. As a whole, humans are becoming a largely indoor species. These days, Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors. Add to this the fact that 54% of the human population now live in urban areas, and it’s clear that people are spending less and less time in nature.
This shift away from nature means more than just losing face time with our natural source of vitamin D.
When you consider our evolutionary history, we’ve spent most of our time living, eating, and being outside — we’re wired for it. The change to a totally indoor life is relatively recent, so our body can’t quite keep up. As a species, we’re experiencing a mass nature deficit, and we’re feeling the effects emotionally, mentally, and physically.
As we do, people have been looking for ways to solve these issues and tap into nature’s inherent therapeutic qualities. Enter shinrin-yoku.
Shinrin-yoku means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or, literally, “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has gained popularity and traction as people have become more desperate for an outdoor experience. The aim of forest bathing is to open your senses and bridge the gap between us and the natural world.
So, how do you forest bathe? It’s simple. Find a spot in nature and wander aimlessly. It doesn’t have to be a forest (we don’t all live in the pacific northwest), but the less concrete you can see, the better. Be sure to leave all distractions behind, including your phone and camera. Most importantly, it’s not a workout or a hike, and you don’t have an end goal.
While you’re wandering, open up your senses! This is key to absorbing the benefits of forest bathing.
If you forest bathe regularly, you might feel calming, rejuvenating, and restorative effects.
Specific scientific research links forest bathing to these specific health boons: boosted immune system, reduced stress, improved mood, expanded ability to focus, accelerated recovery from surgery and illness, increased energy, and improved sleep.
The more regularly and more often you forest bathe, the deeper the spiritual effects.
You’ll achieve a clearer intuition, better energy flow, and generally happier life. If you don’t have a forest handy, don’t worry. Walks in parks, houseplant, and gardening also offer benefits for your mind, body, and soul!
The fact that spending time in nature is therapeutic isn’t surprising to us. Take in the forest (or the park or the garden), and let us know how it makes you feel! @gardenuity
Forest bathing (although wonderful), is not intended to nor should it replace treatment from a trusted medical professional. Thanks to shinrin-yoku.org and NPR for the source information!