The Japanese-inspired “forest bathing” wellness trend comes to the hills!
Shinrin-yoku provides you with natural antidepressants, boosts your immune system and even increases your creativity and mental capabilities! That’s right, it’s evidence-based that time in nature makes you happier, healthier and smarter!
If you have ever taken a walk in nature Thoreau-style, you may already be aware of the benefits of nature. Enter forest bathing, the Japanese medicine of Shinrin-yoku, a guided, mindful walk among the trees that has proven health benefits – both for the body and mind. Don’t worry — forest bathing does not require a bathing suit nor involves a soak in a spa in the middle of a forest. And it is not a calorie-burning 20 km bush walk over the hills. There are no maps, compasses or hiking boots required.
So what exactly are we talking about?
According to the World Health Organization, stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century and is responsible for many forms of chronic illnesses. In the 1980s, Japan recognized the physiological and psychological dangers of stress and depression and sought out a new, affordable and effective way to combat it. This was the beginning of Shinrin-yoku, roughly translated as ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ or ‘forest bathing’.
This is largely due to the presence of phytoncides— antimicrobial organic compounds emitted by trees and other plants to protect themselves from disease. In forested mountain retreats like the Dandenong Ranges, most trees give off these organic compounds that support our natural killer (NK) cells which, in turn, are part of our immune system’s way of fencing off cancer.
Turns out, the serene, balanced and positive feeling you get after ‘forest bathing’ is just one of the many benefits backed up by science:
Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.
Reduced blood pressure
Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
Increased energy level
Just as impressive are the results we are experiencing when forest bathing regularly:
Deeper and clearer intuition
Increased flow of energy
Increased capacity to communicate with the land and its species
Increased flow of eros/life force
Deepening of friendships
Overall increase in sense of happiness
Why do I need a guide to experience the benefits of nature?
You can take a DIY approach to enjoy the benefits of a nature walk. However, as a Certified and Accredited Forest Therapy Guide I draw upon a plethora of mindfulness practices and apply techniques of deep nature connection mentoring to support healing and wellness on a Shinrin-yoku walk. I can help you slow down and fully immerse in the sights, sounds, smells and other sensations of nature in the ‘atmosphere of the forest’. On a guided walk, you will spend about three hours under the canopy of trees, stepping into a space and present time to experience a pleasurable and soothing experience in the Dandenong Ranges as you never have before. Guided Shinrin-yoku walks in nature can have substantial health benefits – physical, mental and emotional.
Susan is a Certified and Accredited Forest Therapy Guide with a passion to connect people with nature, for the benefit of both. She offers guided Shinrin-yoku/forest bathing walks and wellness retreats across Victoria and New Zealand.