A Beginners Guide to Forest Bathing

Today’s busy lives can have a significant impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. If you are looking to escape the daily hustle and bustle of life for a while, why not try “Forest Bathing”, which over the last few years has begun to gain popularity in the UK.

What is Forest Bathing? 

Forest Bathing originated in Japan where it is called shinrin-yoku.  Following scientific studies conducted by the Japanese government, the results showed that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve concentration and memory. They also found that trees release chemicals called phytoncides, which have an anti-microbial effect on human bodies, boosting the immune system.

How Can I do Forest Bathing?

No need to pack a swimsuit - forest bathing is no more complicated than simply going for a walk in your local woods or park.  The only difference is that rather than walking for exercise, you take the time to focus on your natural surroundings. The setting for a forest bathe doesn’t necessarily need to be dense with trees. Any kind of natural setting with minimal human-built features is suitable. The chosen location should be filled with interesting features that improve opportunities for observation and various sensory activities.

Here’s some top tips to get started:

Set aside at least 2 hours for an excursion at least half a mile long.  Try and pick a quiet time of the day when there’s likely to be less people around i.e. early morning or late evening.

1. Take preparations for making your forest bathe more comfortable i.e. wear suitable, comfortable clothing, wear sunscreen, take antihistamine if you suffer from allergies, take water with you.


2. Turn off your electronic devices to allow you to focus on your surroundings.


3. Take your time walking through the trees or sit down quietly to really take in your surroundings.


4. Pay attention to your breathing to help relax and clear your mind – take slow deep breaths in and out.


5. Use your senses – touch the trees, look at the sunlight on the leaves, listen to the birdsong around you.


6.When you have finished your session, try not to make an immediate return to everyday life, sit down somewhere quiet and have a drink of tea, water or natural fruit juice. If you’re with other people, engage in some light conversation about what you have just experienced.  

 

If you would like to try forest bathing, you can search for your nearest forests here at Forest England UK https://www.forestryengland.uk/blog/forest-bathing