“Forest Bathing”

“Forest Bathing”….Ahhhh. What is it and why does it sound sooo good? We have all experienced the beautiful sense of calm that comes from spending some quiet time in nature. I recently learned the term “forest bathing” and in my opinion, there has never been a better way to describe the act of quiet time with nature and the euphoric, calming feeling that follows. I love the term and intentional concept so much, I wanted to share it with anyone who may not have heard of it or had it registered this way.

We can thank the Japanese for this exquisite term and intentional practice. As I understand it, the term Shinrin-yoku, was created in the 1980’s by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and translates to forest bathing. This ecotherapy concept was meant to be an antidote to the burnout from the technology boom and to also encourage their culture to connect and protect Japan’s forests. Forest bathing has become a big part of Japanese preventative and restorative health care practices. This concept has gained popularity all over the world. 

Shinrin-yoku/forest bathing, doesn’t literally mean go take a bath in the forest (although that could be fun too), but it does encourage absorbing the forest atmosphere through calm, quiet, mindful exercise. Like everything, forest bathing can become something different for everyone but the idea is to leave the world behind and be present with nature. If yours involves movement, maybe remove a stressful goal in order to gain all of its benefits. The practice encourages using all 5 senses to observe, soak in, and experience all that the forest wants to give us. It’s not a new surprise, but more and more studies are proving that spending time in nature strengthens our immune system; lowers our stress; eases anxiety and depression; lowers our blood pressure; elevates our mood; and helps us sleep better. The list of benefits is even longer than that! 

I think this forest bathing term caught my interest because I love a forest! I fell in love with them as a little girl. My family and I spent a great amount of time in Ocala National Forest in Florida, and its surrounding sister forests too. Ever since, I have always loved spending time with trees and being in all the pretty places that house them. I don’t know that I’ve always understood all of the health benefits, but I know my time in nature has always left me feeling happy, peaceful and grounded. So much so, I’ve made hanging out in them a way of life. So many of my favorite hobbies take place in the great outdoors. I especially love hiking and feel so blessed to live in Oregon where there is an abundance of spectacular trees and forests!! I have always thought that spending time in the forest feels and smells like a magnitude of wonderful things. It’s like looking at colorful, miraculous works of art. Many forests have herby, floral smells that calm and delight like a luxurious spa. Time in the forest has allowed me many, meaningful conversations with God. They are so detailed and long, they draw you in like soft motivation from a physical trainer. A forest can feel like free therapy from a problem solving psychologist. I didn’t know I was “forest bathing” but I know I always leave the forest a stronger, better me. How fun to have a term to describe this beautiful thing I love! 

The world and life can be pretty hectic, stressful, and overwhelming at times. As humans, I think we are always seeking ways to deal with it so we can enjoy our lives. If we don’t find healthy ways to do so, we can become depressed, sick or attach to unhealthy vices. Our beautiful earth has a forest or park never too far away from us. Next time you’re feeling low, overwhelmed or just in need of some fresh air and me time, go to the trees! From personal experience, I can assure you the trees will help calm you, restore you and heal you. The trees will always show you how to love and appreciate life more. Your forest bath is waiting. Go take it. You deserve it.

Sharon Caldwell Peddie is the Author of “Grow Yourself Beautiful: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Following Her Heart and Focusing on Her Inner Joy and f-words mom let us say: food, family & friends”. For more information on her books visit: sharonpeddieblog.com or https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Sharon%20caldwell%20peddiesharonpeddieblog.com or https://www.pinterest.com/sharonpeddie/pins/

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