A gentle stream in a forest
20th January 2020
By Karen Simmonds

An introduction to forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku

The concept of forest bathing originated in Japan around the 1980s. It is a practice believed to bring numerous physical and mental benefits. Lead researcher and expert in the field, Dr. Yoshifumi Miyazaki, stated that for 99,9% of the existence of humans, we’ve lived in natural environments and only during the later 0,1% we’ve lived in urban environments.  There are several claims over the title of the first-ever city in the world, however, it was only founded roughly 11,000 years ago and therefore in the scheme of things, humans have barely experienced urban life and some, if not the majority of us, simply haven’t had enough time to adjust to the lifestyle of it.

The sun shines through the canopy of a Japanese forest
The sun shines through the canopy of a Japanese forest

Forest bathing is a traditional Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature by mindfully using all five senses. During the 1980s, forest bathing had surfaced as a crucial component of preventive healing and health care in Japan. The reported studies have shown direct associations between this type of practice and its healing properties with strong focuses on:

(1) the immune system function (increase in natural killer cells/cancer prevention);

(2) cardiovascular system (hypertension/coronary artery disease);

(3) the respiratory system (allergies and respiratory disease);

(4) depression and anxiety (mood disorders and stress);

(5) mental relaxation (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder);

(6) human feelings of “awe” (increase in gratitude and selflessness);

An educated mind is a healthy mind. We can no longer deny all the positive effects that spending time in nature has over our bodies.

Unlike other types of medicine or healing methods, forest bathing doesn’t involve a series of rigorous methodical actions all to be accomplished in a solitary manner. Activities such as cycling, hiking, forest ranger adventures, added luxuries, etc. are in fact encouraged if one decides to dedicate a whole day or even an entire week to nature bathing. However, once every now and then, it is indeed recommended that one simply takes some time for oneself to get immersed in the natural world, feeling completely disconnected from the rest of the world.

An incredible multi limbed tree
Incredible natural beauty

As humans, psychologically and spiritually speaking, we intuitively understand the soothing, relaxing and “awe” feelings of being in or viewing plants, flowers, forests, urban green spaces and parks. Why not give our bodies what they need by spending more time outdoors? Especially during the cold season, our mental and physical wellbeing requires at least 20 minutes a day spent in natural environments. Go out there and enjoy the peace and quiet.

If you’d like some personal recommendations for UK-based or international locations, don’t hesitate to get in touch

By Karen Simmonds

Travel Matters Ltd

Travel Matters’ passion for excellence has always been at the core of our business. We reassure you that every journey will be harmonious and worry-free, empowering you to explore, be inspired and truly come to know and enjoy your destination.

20th January 2020