When was the last time you’ve taken a walk in the woods recently? In fact, getting away into the great outdoors may be just what the doctor ordered for your general health and well-being. Speaking for myself, getting off-line can be equally helpful too!
What is Forest Bathing?
The Japanese art of Shinrin-Yoku or “forest bathing” was developed in Japan during the 1980’s and has become a mainstay of healing in Japanese preventative medicine. We know that taking a 15 to 20 minute walk during our lunch break helps keep us refreshed, refocused and keeps us calm for the rest of the work day. Research now supports the fact that there are restorative and rejuvenating health benefits to simply going into the forest and enjoying a relaxing walk.
Some of these scientifically researched health benefits include:
- Strengthening the immune system
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased energy levels
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
- Reduced stress
- An overall sense of wellbeing and happiness
How A Walk in the Woods Can Help
On a recent outing to the Guelph Arboretum with my dogs, I was impressed with the natural beauty of the environment with its many different species and varieties of botanical plants and trees. Not only did it give me a deep sense of appreciation of our earth but I came to realize through our collective conscience that, in this world of chaos and seemingly destructive ways, there is a simple beauty within as evident throughout creation.
In a way it gave me a deeper sense of hope and renewed my purpose and wellbeing through revelation. In fact I came away revitalized, re-energized and “spiritually” enlightened. It kind of reminded me of the ancient meditative art used during the middle-ages by monks when they walked in a garden-designed labyrinth to focus on their daily prayers and meditation.
One of the health claims to “forest bathing” is an increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD. I can definitely sense a change after my walk. I felt more relaxed which helped me to focus on writing this blog. With all the general stress and anxiety disorders, taking a walk in the woods not only helps with your physical health but, just as important, our mental health and wellbeing.
Instead of jumping in the car and driving hours to the cottage, only to get stuck in traffic and cause more stress to our body, why not take a nature walk and stop to smell the roses — before there are no more roses left to smell.