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What is Forest Bathing, and Why is This Japanese Practice on the Rise?

Self-care should be an important part of our everyday routines. And you probably already know that self-care comes in many different forms. From long bubble baths to simply making ourselves a cup of tea when we are feeling down. Small acts like that can make the biggest difference. When taking care of ourselves, why not take some inspiration from other cultures too? If you love spending time in nature and getting in touch with your higher self, you’ll enjoy a Japanese self-care practice called forest bathing.

Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese practice that involves immersing oneself in nature in order to promote health and well-being. While it has been around for decades, it recently started to gain popularity in Western countries. And it’s not too hard to understand why, because the benefits of forest bathing are numerous. So let’s explore what forest bathing is and why it’s becoming so popular. And then, let’s see how you can implement it into your life.

What is Forest Bathing?

The term Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” while yoku means “bath.” So “Shinrin-yoku” literally means “bathing in the forest.” This practice involves taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of nature. This will not only help you calm down and unwind from the stress of your everyday life but also help you reconnect with nature. Remember, this goes beyond just walking in the woods and posting cute hiking pics. Forest bathing encourages participants to use all of their senses to fully engage with their surroundings.

The Benefits of Forest Bathing

As we have already mentioned, one of the key benefits of forest bathing is its ability to reduce stress. But what does that exactly mean? Studies have shown that exposure to nature can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is one of our body’s biggest enemies. Lower levels of this hormone won’t only decrease our anxiety and tension. It can also lower high blood pressure and help with other chronic conditions such as insomnia. In addition to that, it’s no secret that spending time in nature can improve your mood and increase feelings of happiness and well-being.

Besides reducing stress, this practice can also help you improve your energy levels and enhance your cognitive function. Walking through a forest and using all of your senses to truly experience improves your alertness. Nature stimulates our brains, making us feel more connected and present. Your immune system can benefit from forest bathing as well. That’s because exposure to nature has been linked to an increase in the production of natural killer cells. These cells help us fight off infections and other diseases. All of this will have a huge impact on your overall health.

How to Participate in Forest Bathing

You don’t need a special spiritual guide to participate in forest bathing. What you need is, obviously, a forest to walk in. Needless to say, you have to make sure that you’re safe, and you can also bring someone with you. The main goal of your walk through the forest is to be as mindful as possible. Limit your distractions – turn off your notifications, make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothing, and just enjoy the wonders of nature that are surrounding you. The key is to fully immerse oneself in the environment and allow the sights, sounds, and sensations of nature to penetrate the senses.


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