The Japanese have invented a beautiful practice known as Shinrin-Yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means 'forest', and yoku means 'bath'. So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through your senses. It is simply being in nature and connecting with it through your sense of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.
The Japanese take their forest bathing seriously. They have 62 certified forest therapy sites, all of which have been proven to have particular healthful properties. Between 2.5 and 5 million people now walk the forest trails every year. Shinrin-yoku has become a standard practice for the Japanese in managing their stress and looking after their health.
When people started to practice shinrin-yoku, in the early 80's, it was based only on common sense and the intuitive idea that being in the beautiful green forests of Japan would be good for you. The idea was also part of a campaign to protect the forests. Then in 2004, scientific experiments and investigations into the link between forests and human health began in earnest. These experiments have scientifically proved that forest-bathing can:
Boost the immune system
Decrease anxiety, depression and anger
Reduce stress and bring about a state of relaxation
Learning about this practice and the benefits has made me even more conscious and aware of the value of getting outside in nature, and as a result I've doubled my efforts to do so on a daily basis. It has also put Japan on my travel bucket list! 😊
P.S. The information in this article came from the book Forest Bathing - How Trees Can Help you Find Health and Happiness by Dr Qing Li. It is an easy and interesting read if you'd like to learn more.