Have you heard of forest bathing? Even if you haven’t, I’m guessing you’ve experienced it whether you know it or not.
Earlier this week I told you about our camping trip as short break from all my furniture painting. If missed it, you can read about it here.
Just two days of being out in nature among the trees, away from work, chores, computers, and cell phones, completely relaxed my body and refreshed my mind. Not the kind of relaxed feeling you might get at the end of the day when you finally stop working and sit down. And not the kind of refresh you might feel after an hour resting at the pool.
This felt different. And, after a little research, realized there’s actually a name for it… forest bathing.
The Japenese termed the phrase forest bathing and have actually studied it. As a matter of fact, it became part of the national public health program in Japan in 1982 and they spent $4 million (2004-2012) studying it’s effects.
Forest bathing (also known as Shinrin-Yoku) is the act of just being in the presence of trees. Not hiking, jogging, or biking; but just being among the trees, relaxing, and taking in their healing power.
Forest bathing has been scientifically proven to improve your health. According to an arcticle on Quartz Media, “The Japanese have studied and measured the activity of human natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system before and after exposure to the woods. These cells provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells and respond to tumor formation, and are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention.”
In addition to boosting the immune system, forest bathing has been proven to lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and reduce the production of cortisol (the hormone related to stress).
Not only that, the effects of being among the trees have shown to last months.
So how does this happen?
Wood and plants emit essential oils (phytoncide) to protect themselves from insects, bacteria, and fungi. The word phytoncide means “exterminated by the plant”. The plant gives off active substances (oils) “which prevent them from rotting or being eaten by some insects and animals.” (reference: Wikipedia).
The phytoncides prevent the growth of attacking organisms; so you can see why scientists found forest bathing beneficial in responding to viruses and tumors and improving the immune system.
Pine, cedar, oak, tea tree, garlic, onion, and spices are just a few of the plants/trees that give off phytoncides. This may be why I found our camping trip under the pine trees to be so incredibly invigorating and refreshing.
Even if you can’t get away to the New Hampshire woods for an overnight camping trip like we did, encourage your family to get outside among the trees on a regular basis. Especially kids who are so tied into electronics these days. Even short exposures to trees have still proven to be helpful in reducing stress, anxiety, hostility, and depression.
Here’s a short-read book I found on Amazon that looks really interesting. If you’re interested in learning more about the Japanese practice of forest bathing, it’s only $4.99 or even free if you have Kindle Unlimited.Enjoy relaxing among the trees today!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links to products I love and use myself.