When I first heard the words forest bathing, confusion was my natural response. As an avid hiker, it sounded like a sexier phrase for a walk in the woods. After some research, I uncovered some interesting facts worth sharing.
Forest bathing is derived from a Japanese term, shinrin-yoku. It is promoted for stress relief, relaxation, and overall wellness. Bathing refers to immersing in the calmness and majesty of nature.
A person is accepted as they are in the forest. The birds and insects create a symphony only heard by those present at that moment. The gently swaying trees drop their leaves like gifts from above. It provides an amazing view in every direction. The several hundred-year-old trees signify how short human life can be. Bountiful berries on the underbrush nourish the animals. Massive rocks tower high above the ground reminding us they have graced this earth for thousands of years. Forest bathing provides abundant health benefits for every age. It is not a hoax.
Tips for the best experience:
- Wear bright, fluorescent colors, such as orange or hot pink, to alert potential hunters
- Take a fully charged cell phone for photos and in case a situation arises
- Tell someone where you are going and call them when you return to the vehicle
- Pack water, a healthy snack, extra sweater, small first aid kit, in lightweight backpack
- If this area is new to you, take yarn or ribbon to tie on branches for an identifiable exit
- Other than a cell phone, leave other electronics at home. Hearing the birds sing is difficult when wearing headphones, for example.
- Check for weather alerts for that area.
- There will be creatures: chipmunk, squirrel, turkey, deer, beaver, etc., and generally do not pose any threat.
- Spray down with tick and bug repellent.
- Walk at a comfortable pace. This is not a race and there is no destination.
- Sit on a rock or log whenever you need a break.
- Just breathe. Relax. Admire the beauty. Absorb the serenity of Mother Nature.
Finding peace and purpose
Forest bathing is a relatively new term. But walking among the trees to find peace and purpose is nearly as ancient as human life itself. The depths of the rewards differ for each person. The two most repeated words after nature therapy of any kind is humility and transformation.
Humans were not designed to be tethered to a keyboard or tied to a desk. The earth supports every aspect of our lives: food, sunlight, water, shelter, and air. Finding a connection to Mother Nature creates a permanent bond. It unites the mind, body, and spirit, allowing us to embrace life wholly balanced.
Dr. Guyer is a Wilson College alumna, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics. She earned a dual doctorate in Natural Health and Nutrition and is a renown natural health expert. She is an author, speaker, educator, founder and former CEO of Gardens by Grace, LLC, an organic company. Her passion is helping people regain their health through wholesome nutrition and life style changes.