Updated: Jun 19, 2019
By Stephanie DeFazio
Do you even remember the last time you ran a bath for yourself instead of a shower? When you actually had the time to soak and relax and maybe read a good book while you’re drinking a glass of champagne? I think we can all agree that life gets so busy sometimes that we forget to just pause and take it all in. How about the last time you were out in nature for a significant amount of time? Well there’s this practice called Forest Bathing, or shinrin-yoku, that was developed in Japan during the 1980’s, and it became a huge part of preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Spending time in the forest has been known to have amazing health benefits including boosting the immune system, reducing stress, and improving sleep.
“Forest bathing is connecting with the healing powers of nature . . . by simply being in nature, slowing down, and allowing ourselves to use our senses, not our minds. Typically, [it includes] a leisurely stroll of about a mile with pauses along the way to notice, reflect, sit, or wander.”
(Nadine Mazzola, Stopping by woods and breathing in deeply)
Nadine Mazzola was in the process of healing after her cancer treatments when she learned about phytoncides, which are emitted by trees and known to boost NK (“natural killer”) cells in the immune system. Forest Bathing had such a positive impact on her health that she founded New England Nature and Forest Therapy Consulting in 2015. Since then, she has guided many different groups, including students, inmates, and seniors in assisted-living through forest bathing sessions. (Stopping by woods and breathing in deeply)
The key to benefiting from forest bathing is actually repetition. Tam Wiley of Toadstool Walks is a certified forest therapy guide. She explains, “It takes time to build up NK cells in the blood and lower the production of stress hormones.” Tam has noticed her own health improve tremendously and her immune system is stronger (Stopping by woods and breathing in deeply). Who knew that routinely spending some time in the forest and breathing in some phytoncides could have such an incredible impact?
“I think forest therapy is for everyone. [It’s for] anybody who’s looking for deeper connections, anybody who just needs a time out from a chaotic, busy life, and needs to recharge.”
(Kristi Palma, How to Go Forest Bathing)
Our lives can be so chaotic and stressful sometimes. It often feels like we are fighting against time, and not having enough of it to recharge. If we set aside time for forest bathing, we would be continuously practicing mindfulness. Imagine how much stress would be lifted off our shoulders. We would be freer, healthier, and happier.
If you’re looking to try forest bathing for the first time, Creative Spirit has an upcoming half-day workshop next Sunday, June 23rd. You can register here and learn more about the activities planned during this unique experience that will leave you connected with the spirit of nature!