Forest Therapy, also known as forest bathing, is an ancient technique practiced by cultures all over the world. In Japan, where it is used as part of their healthcare system, it is known as shinrin-yoku. Forest Therapy, by any name, is all about slowing down and being mindful of your surroundings to the receive the healing magic of the forest.
When practicing Forest Therapy we first create a firm intention to leave our inner chatter behind. By combining mindful breathing with the presence of trees, we tune into our senses to make a deep connection to nature. Not only does this feel amazing but research has shown that time spent forest bathing can lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce production of the stress hormone cortisol and boost the immune system.
Trees naturally give off phytoncides, or wood essential oils, to protect themselves from germs and insects. When inhaled these oils have a beneficial impact on our nervous system. Our forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes. “Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better – inhaling phytoncides seems to actually improve immune-system function” concluded a study of forest bathing by researchers from Japan’s Chiba University.