Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese concept meaning to “take in the forest atmosphere.” And it can have big benefits for your health and wellbeing.
You may have run across reports such as this one from NPR, regaling the benefits of “forest bathing.” Even if you haven't heard about forest bathing, you may intrinsically know that you feel better after time communing with nature.
Best Day Ever is based in the beautiful tree-covered Pacific Northwest, so we have no doubt that forest-bathing benefits are real. Read on to learn how science backs up what we’ve experienced.
The idea behind “forest bathing” is not to conquer the trail ahead of you but to simply “be” in your natural surroundings. This may look like a short stroll in a nearby park or sitting and contemplating the world from the banks of a tree-lined stream.
It turns out that this respite in a natural setting is particularly good for us. Studies have shown empirical evidence this practice helps lower blood pressure and increase immunity, among other benefits.
Another study found that impulsivity was reduced in participants who were exposed to nature. In your everyday life, think of ”reduced impulsivity” as being able to pass up that afternoon mocha or resisting an online spending binge on kitchen gadgets you really don’t need.
Along with physiological improvements that come from time in nature, a visit to the great outdoors may give you the boost of inspiration you need to take your work project to the next level or help you refocus on a day that starts out on the wrong foot.
Studies have shown spending time outdoors increases concentration and walking outdoors boosts creativity.
In one study, hikers who spent four days in the wilderness (without their devices) performed 50% better on a creativity and problem-solving task. The takeaway, say researchers, is that “cognitive advantage [is] to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting.”
Another study demonstrates that those who walk in nature, as opposed to those who walk in an urban environment, show a decrease in negative thoughts. Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself: Have you ever noticed you can’t stay mad when you’re walking in nature?
Take action now
What are you waiting for? Make a list of places near home and work where you could escape for a dose of outdoor inspiration. Then, make it a priority to visit one this week. Happy forest bathing!
Photo by Girma Nigusse on Unsplash