The origins of forest bathing goes back to the high-stress environment of 1980’s corporate Japan.
“Death by overwork”, or karoshi, was a widespread phenomenon with ill health often resulting in heart attacks and strokes.
Inspired by the Shinto reverence for nature, government-backed research focused on the measurable health benefits of a stroll in the forest. And from there, Shinrin-yoku was born.
The term Shinrin-yoku directly translates to ‘take in the forest atmosphere’, and is now commonly referred to as forest bathing.
Whilst forest bathing may conjure up ideas of swimming in a hot spring surrounded by trees, all that is required is taking off your shoes and socks.
Forest bathing encourages us to focus on our senses; bare feet on the earth, the smell of soil, flowers, leaves and wind on your skin. Start including this in your weekly wellness goals and you will begin to feel the stress melt away.
Need help getting started? Here is a simple step-by-step guide for beginners:
• Find yourself an easy, flat-ish nature walk.
• Once you arrive at the start of the path, remove your shoes and socks and put them in your backpack.
• As you step slowly onto the path, bring awareness to your feet. Step consciously shifting your weight from the outside of your foot to the inside of your foot.
• Take long breaths deep into the abdomen.
• Extend the exhalation of air to twice the length of the inhalation.
• Stop, stand or sit at regular intervals, smell what’s around you and take note of all of your senses.
• Repeat once a week.