Being in a forest is a treat for the senses but did you know it’s also good for your health?
Since the early 1980s, doctors in Japan have been recommending Shinrin-Yoku which translates as ‘forest bathing’ or ‘forest therapy’- the act of immersing oneself in nature using all of one’s senses - for its restorative effects on physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Forest Therapy is an evidence-based preventative health practice that has become an established part of the Japanese healthcare system and is being adopted worldwide. Research has demonstrated that this nature immersion can lower stress and anxiety levels, reduce blood pressure, improve confidence and mood, as well as support the immune system, improve sleeping patterns and aid recovery time from physical injuries.
Top tips for getting the most out of your Forest Therapy experience:
- Disconnect from everyday distractions, turn your phone off or to silent and focus on being fully present in the moment and place.
- Leave behind expectations and set an intention to connect to nature with all of your senses.
- Start by becoming aware of the place you are in, how your body feels whilst standing in the forest. Take some deep relaxing breaths and tune into your senses. Closing your eyes can help in allowing you to hear the sounds of the forest and its inhabitants, feel the elements and smell the scents of what is around you.
- Walk very slowly noticing motion and stillness in the forest. Don’t rush. If you start to feel distracted, gently bring your focus back to your surrounds.
- Take 10-20 minutes to sit still (the longer the better) to become aware of what is around you. The longer you sit, the more you will begin to notice the natural world from the tiny flowers at your feet, birds moving from tree to tree, the rustling of small animals in the bush.
- Connect to the forest by exploring trees, stones, flowers and other beings of the forest you feel drawn to.
- Enjoy the experience as your own and quietly acknowledge all that it has given you.
- Go with a guide. There are certified Forest Therapy practitioners providing services in Parks Victoria managed parks. You can find registered operators on our website here (filter by ‘Forest Therapy’).