With rapid urbanization and economic development, more and more people begin to show symptoms of daily fatigue, stress, and a general low mood. Under the background of increasing numbers of people at risk of developing disease, forest therapy or forest bathing comes to the rescue as the most natural and soothing healing practice of spending time outdoors in fresh air and green scenery.
It is a natural therapy that allows you to slow down, detach from work and your problems and use all of your senses to immerse into nature.
Benefits of Forest Bathing
Forest bathing is about healing in nature and clearing your mind. It is an opportunity to escape the pressures of modern life, take time outside, relax, connect your mind and body, and regain balance. You leave your camera and phone behind and follow your senses. Your body is your guide. The sunlight dancing through the leaves, the scent of flowers, the babbling of a brook, the clean, fresh air, and birds chirping – nature makes you feel more connected and more at peace and gives a sense of comfort. All these things bring you into the present moment, putting everything else behind.
People have been taking walks and hiking into the woods for centuries. Mounting research now shows that immersing in a forest improves sleep and mood, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and boosts the body’s natural defenses. Forest bathing can help reduce depression, anxiety, anger, and stress, improve heart health, reduce the levels of harmful hormones, and enhance your overall well-being.
There is a good reason why busy cities have pockets of nature and parks. Urban life disconnects us from the natural world. It is true that cities are places where sounds, sights, smells, and ideas inspire innovation and spawn creativity. We enjoy the benefits of urban life – but at what cost?
For most of human history, we lived in rural, low-density settings, with adults working on farms and children playing in open green fields. Today, we are technological species trapped in a sedentary lifestyle. Because of pollution, millions of children living in big cities will never experience a starry night sky. They can name more Pokémon characters than birds or bugs. We have become detached from nature, the very wellspring of human existence. Nurturing a connection with nature offers tremendous benefits. When we are connected with nature, we feel more vital and better emotionally, and have more meaning in our lives.
Forest Bathing in Nature
While it is called forest bathing, this does not necessarily mean that you have to go to a heavily wooded area. You could take a trip to a nearby lake, the beach, or your favorite picnic area or trail. Once there, walk slowly, take a few deep breaths, and tune in your senses. Make friends with nature and your surroundings. Listen to the sounds of nature. Notice the flowers, plants, stones, and trees. Relax, acknowledge everything that the natural world gives you, and savor the sights, smells, and sounds.
Let nature in through your feet, hands, mouth, nose, eyes, and ears. Lie on the ground. Place your hands on the bark of a tree and feel its vibrational energy. Dip your toes and fingers into a stream. Let your senses indulge and explore. Nature is a soul-food for all of us living in busy cities. It is also the best physician and medicine. Take your time and let nature heal you.
Forest Bathing in the City
If you are like most of us, you probably lament the lack of sufficient parks, wildlife, and greenery. The good news is that even if you don’t have easy access to forest trails and wildflower meadows, you can still practice forest bathing in the city to unlock the power of nature.
Create a Rooftop Garden
Rooftop landscaping offers a great opportunity to forest-bathe in an urban environment according to johnmini.com. A rooftop garden brings nature into the city and provides a space for relaxation, sunbathing, and enjoyment.
Rooftop landscaping also helps native insect and plant populations thrive and creates urban biodiversity. Your garden can have all or some of the features of a conventional garden, including water features, wildlife habitat, and plants. You can plant a wide variety of species such as small shrubs, flowering plants, grasses, and herbs.
Apart from aesthetics, a rooftop garden offers plenty of health benefits. Like other natural settings, roof gardens benefit mental health, prompt rest, free up creativity, and increase serenity and mindfulness. Gardens help improve your physical and mental health and wellbeing and provide an opportunity to connect with nature and with other people.
Find a Park
Find a park or urban forest near you and time of the day when there are fewer people around. Switch off your phone, walk through the park at a leisurely pace, and enjoy quiet time. Wandering slowly and silently noticing everything around you can be meditative. This is a mindful time spent outdoors, allowing you to be aware of wildlife and plant life and everything that nature gives you.
It is also a sensory exercise to de-stress and give your mind and body a chance to slow down. Give yourself enough time and do whatever resonates with you. Even if you spend most of the time lying on the ground or sitting and observing, that is totally OK. Forest bathing is not about covering a lot of ground, it is about getting a healthy dose of nature.
You can practice forest bathing anywhere where there is vegetation and greenery, in sunshine, rain, and snow, in cold and hot weather. Once you’ve found a destination that works for you, take in your surroundings, clear your mind, and consciously connect with nature and what’s around you.