Does Forest Bathing Work? The Science is In

Does Forest Bathing Work? The Science is In
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Does Forest Bathing Work? The Science is In. Image Unsplash.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Does Forest Bathing Work?

Does forest bathing work? I would say so, but I’ve been doing it my whole life. Have you ever taken a walk in the woods and felt instantly rejuvenated and at peace? If so, have experienced the concept of forest bathing. 

Ever since I was a young child, I have been drawn to natural settings. The cool of the forest floor on a hot summer day, the bright sunlight filtered through green leaves, and the quiet calming sounds of birds and other creatures living their lives without interruption. These always felt like a place where I was most calm and content. Even in the depths of winter, the still and quiet of snowfall in a coastal cedar rainforest makes for a wonderful, rejuvenating escape. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was practicing forest bathing.

This practice has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people seeking to reconnect with nature and improve their mental and physical health. But does forest bathing work? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at shinrin yoku and explore whether this trend is truly effective or just another passing fad.

Introduction to Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku

The practice of forest bathing, known as Shinrin-yoku in Japanese, has its roots in Japan as an integral part of preventive health care and healing. It was first introduced in the 1980s by the Japanese government as a way to combat stress-related illnesses among the population.

The concept of Shinrin-yoku can be traced back even further, however, to ancient Japanese culture and traditions. It was believed that spending time in nature could provide a range of physical and mental health benefits, including an improved sense of well-being, greater calmness and relaxation, and even improved immune function.

Does forest bathing work? Well, it has become a popular practice in countries around the world, with many people seeking out natural environments as a way to improve their health and well-being. While the practice maintains its roots in Japanese culture, it has evolved into a global phenomenon, with people from all walks of life turning to nature as a way to reconnect with themselves and the world around them. 

But does Forest Bathing Work? Science says Yes

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the benefits of forest bathing. 

Studies have shown that forest bathing can:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve mood and mental well-being
  • Boost the immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Increase energy levels
  • Enhance cognitive function
  • Promote relaxation and a sense of peace

One study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology found that forest bathing can significantly increase the activity of natural killer cells, which play an important role in fighting cancer and other diseases.

Another study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology showed that forest bathing can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, all of which are key indicators of stress and anxiety.

A paper reviewed previous research on the physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku and presented new results from field experiments conducted in 24 forests across Japan. They found that spending time in nature and participating in forest bathing can improve mood, reduce feelings of tension and fatigue, and promote feelings of happiness and well-being.

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health systematically reviewed forest therapy programs designed to decrease the level of depression among adults concluding that forest therapy “is an emerging and effective intervention for decreasing adults’ depression levels.” 

There are many more, all with similar outcomes. Scientific evidence strongly suggests that forest bathing can provide a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. From boosting the immune system to reducing stress and anxiety, this practice is backed by science and offers a natural way to improve overall health and well-being.

It’s not Rocket Science

1. Find a spot. Make sure you turn off your phone and put your camera away so that you can completely disconnect from the outside world. This is not the time to do social media selfies. Find a comfortable spot, sit down and simply take in your surroundings. Listen to the sounds of the forest and breathe in the fresh air. Let your mind wander and take in all the sights and smells around you. 

2. Slow down. One of the best things about forest bathing is that you can do it while walking and that there is no rush. Take your time walking around and exploring. Stop to smell the flowers and listen to the birds singing. Follow the path you’ve never been down, find the places that were secret, until now. Allow yourself to be present in the moment and savor all that nature has to offer.

3. Connect with nature. This is your chance to truly connect with nature and appreciate all it has to offer. Touch the rough texture of the bark of a tree and smell its fragrance. Gently feel the softness of a flower petal between your fingers. Feel the cool air of the forest floor and smell the damp earth. Take it all in – the sights, sounds, smells, and textures – and let nature work its magic on you.

See also: Forest Bathing, Forest Healing.

Alternatives to get a Similar Benefit

There are many different ways to connect with nature, forest bathing, is just one of them. If you’re not into the whole forest Bathing thing, there are plenty of other options for getting your nature fix. Here are a few alternatives:

1. Hiking or walking: One great way to get close to nature is by going for a hike or walk in nature. Whether you’re trekking through the woods or scaling a mountain, it is an excellent way to get some fresh air and exercise. 

2. Camping: If you really want to immerse yourself in nature, camping is the way to go. Sleeping under the stars and waking up to the sound of birds chirping is an experience that soothes the soul. As an added bonus, it’s the perfect opportunity to bond with friends or family members.

3. Gardening: Don’t have time for a hike or an interest in camping? You can still enjoy the benefits of nature by spending some time gardening. Getting your hands dirty and growing your own food is not only satisfying, but it’s also good for your health.

4. Birdwatching: One of the best things about nature is the variety of wildlife that you can find in even the most urban of areas. One of the most popular outdoor activities, birdwatching is a great way to learn about nature and meet like minded people. It is a relaxing activity that doesn’t require too much effort, yet provides many benefits.

Ultimately, forest bathing is only doubted by those who do not yet understand it. The question does forest bathing work can be answered by the medical community. In Japan, it is prescribed by doctors as a first treatment for many of the social disorders affecting people in big cities – rather than powerful antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications.

For those who are looking for natural ways to deal with stress or anxiety, it is definitely worth trying out this unique form of meditation in nature.

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for exclusive content, original stories, activism awareness, events and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Support Us.

Happy Eco News will always remain free for anyone who needs it. Help us spread the good news about the environment!