August 15 is World Relaxation Day.
To celebrate, you could lounge in bed. Or you can binge watch your favourite show on Netflix. But you’ll feel a lot more rejuvenated if you give forest bathing a try instead.
What is forest bathing?
Forest bathing, in its essence, means taking in the forest atmosphere. It’s to bathe one’s mind and soul with the forest. Shinrin-yoku, its formal title, is a concept that Japan adopted in 1982 which has shown to significantly improve people’s health.
It turns out that heading out to the woods can really make an impact on your health. According to a variety of scientific studies, forest bathing can:
- lower your blood pressure
- lower your pulse rate
- reduce your cortisol levels (those nasty stress hormones)
- keep depression at bay
- boost your energy levels
- kick your anger to the curb
Here are 6 tips to help you get everything you can out of the forest bathing experience:
If you’re really stressed, go for a longer walk in the woods. One study compared the cortisol levels in people after walking in a forest compared with those in an urban scene and found that those who walked among the trees had lower levels of stress hormones.
Slow down. You’re not trying to win a race here. Slow your step so you can soak in the beauty. You’ll pay more attention to the sounds, sights and smells all around you.
Leave your phone at home. With your cell out of reach, you won’t be distracted by notifications or calls. Plus you won’t want to snap pictures of the beauty around you every 10 steps.
When you’re feeling down, forest bathing is the way to go. It turns out as little as 40 minutes of walking in a forest will result in improved mood and feelings of vigor. If you want to experience the full-blown benefits, consider spending some time walking in a forest setting every day.
Keep your eyes peeled. You never know what wonderful critters you’ll see when you’re forest bathing. Keep your eye out for birds, small mammals, frogs, turtles, dragonflies and more. The forest is incredibly alive with the species that call it home.
Take a deep breath. The air feels different in the forest. Think of all that oxygen you’re breathing in. We encourage you to take five minutes out of your walk to do a lovely little meditation, focusing on your breath to max out the experience.
Keeping Our Forests Alive
If you enjoy forest bathing, you’ll be happy to know that our team of researchers at the Canadian Wildlife Federation are hard at work keeping our forests alive and well. We are doing everything we can to conserve the wildlife that call the forest home.