Get Out in Nature: The Untapped Potential of Forest Bathing
If you're anything like us, chances are you spend a lot more time inside, hunched over your computer than you do freely out in the wild. Amidst the ups and downs of 2020 it seems like people are getting outdoors and appreciating nature where they live more than ever. May it be so that the simple act of being in nature helps us solve some of our daily challenges?
Research is emphasising how 'forest bathing' works wonders for mind, body and spirit. If you are in the need of de-stressing - consider connecting and immersing yourself in the forest. There are some pretty cool health benefits. This is eco-therapy at its finest!
What is forest bathing?
Forest bathing is simply the practice of spending time in a wooded area. And no, there is no water activity involved even if the name may suggest so. The term forest bathing can be traced back to the 1980s in Japan. It originates from the tradition of shinrin-yoku which is a national pastime amongst the Japanese and we are all for it. Shinrin-yoku translates to "forest bathing" or "taking in the forest atmosphere".
The practice of shinrin-yoku emerged with a two-fold purpose:
1. to offer an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout
2. inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country's forests
A typical shinrin-yoku session lasts about three hours. It's all about activating the senses and being aware of the surroundings. Touch, feel and breath the forest.
Even though this was decades ago we believe it may be more relevant than ever. Perhaps the most sustainable health hack you can do for yourself and the planet.
Fun fact: Forest covers 70% of Sweden's surface. The MANTLE team obviously haven't got any excuses to not get back into nature.
Benefits of forest bathing
Being outdoors is generally associated with activity, and being physically active is without doubt great for overall health and wellbeing. What's extra sweet about being active outside is how you disconnect from phone and media which helps you become present and tune in with yourself.
The author of the book 'Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing' highlights that forest bathing is a preventative medicin - not a treatment. More and more research highlighted the benefits of shinrin-yoku in Japan which lead to the Japanese government incorporating it into the country's health programme. For instance, phytoncides, a chemical released by trees and plants, was found to boost the immune system.
The key benefits of being in the forest lowers is that it blood pressure, cortisol levels and cognitive fatigue. It has also been found to impact mental health and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.
"It's tremendously peaceful, calming and centering"
How can you forest bath?
Below are our some suggestions on how you can immerse yourself in the woods. Make forest bathing a weekend activity!
Go for a run
Sorry to bother you about working out but going for a run in the woods can actually be a great motivator. Not only does the forest provide a visually lush surrounding that makes you forget how out of breath you may be - it will boost your endorphins and circulation too! The fresh air may fuel your lungs with a bit more energy to get through an extra kilometer.
Host a picnic
Gather some friends, find a glade and roll out your blanket. Our go-to selection of picnic-friendly items are hummus, olives, bread, chocolate and strawberries. YUM!
You can thank us later.
Take a walk
Simple yet effective, a good old walk will never disappoint you. Google the best forest trail close to where you live. Have a problem or feel down? Treat mind and body to an hours walk and see if it makes you feel better.
Challenge yourself to not tune in to a podcast or listen to music and see if you can breath in the sound of nature instead.
It's berry season - our favourite season. Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries. They are all ripe and ready-to-eat! Make sure to bring plenty of cartoons so you can stock up and freeze some over the winter.
And don't forget that fresh berries can be a delicious summer desert with some ice-cream on the side.
Want more inspiration on what you can look for when out in nature? Read our post about edible wild foods such as nettles, dandelions and elderflower.
Are you an experienced mushroom picker? You'll need to know a thing or two about mushrooms to succeed in identifying and finding the edible ones. Nevertheless, the process of searching for mushrooms will probably test your patience and encourage you to pick up on details in nature you'd never observed otherwise. A highly therapeutic practice!
Vision: Cooking fresh chantarelle toast for your loved ones on a Sunday morning.
Meditate under a tree
Pick a place far away from civilisation and people and sit down under the canopy of trees. Mindful time spent on your own in nature will do wonders for your appreciation of Mother Earth. For more health benefits - check out our best grounding practices that includes a beautiful body scan meditation.
That's it. We hope you feel inspired to go forest bathing in the near future!