Forget the Tub – Take a Bath in a Forest to Unwind

Shinrin-yoku which means forest bathing is a Japanese method of relaxing and unwinding with nature.

Jan 12, 2015
person walking in a green forest

A forest bath is good stress reliever. [Shutterstock]

After a long day, a common way to unwind is to prepare yourself a hot bath, close your eyes and soak. In Japan, the definition of bathing is being expanded to include trees, greenery and nature with ‘shinrin-yoku’ - which literally means forest bathing. The method of spending time in nature to de-stress - without the help of a traditional bath - is an effective way to relax, as seen in an experiment conducted in 24 forests across Japan. Participants were split into two groups; those who spent time in a forest had a significant decrease in their stress levels (cortisol), pulse rate and blood pressure as compared to the second group, which spent time in urban environments.  
While looking to nature as a way to soothe the body and soul isn’t a new concept, shinrin-yoku is being hailed as a cost effective way to increase well-being and health.  The Japanese Forestry Agency has created 48 official Forest Therapy trails, and the government has funded about $4 million in forest bathing research since 2004. Other countries are taking note, with the South Korean government investing more than $140 million to create a National Forest Therapy Center and forest-rich Finland funding scientific research into forest-bathing.
When was the last time you took a forest bath? Choose an area close by to your home that is filled with greenery, trees and pure nature. Put your smartphone on silent and start walking at your own pace. Take in the sounds, sights and smells of nature, breathe deeply - and feel your stress slip away.

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