Discover the art of forest bathing
Embrace the great outdoors and discover a new way to appreciate the ever-changing beauty of nature with the art of forest bathing - whether it's a quick lunchtime stroll in the park, or a weekend hike with the kids...
By Lorna McGachie
We all know that being out in nature is one of the most powerful ways to reset and recharge our batteries. After all, nature’s a healer.
From the comforting warmth of the sun’s gentle glow to the fresh feeling of a cool breeze blowing those cobwebs away, being outside eases stress, focuses the mind and helps put things into perspective. There’s nothing quite like it.
This is why more and more of us are turning to the art of forest bathing to help set us on the right path and provide the energy we need to tackle life’s most testing moments. Life can be chaotic, and it’s all too easy to put mental health and wellbeing on the backburner.
Forest bathing isn’t a new concept, but it’s not very widely known, either. If you’re completely new to this idea, don’t worry. We’ve got all the hints and tips you need to get started with your journey. As long as you go in with an open mind, you’ll reap the rewards of feeling truly connected to nature.
What is forest bathing, exactly?
Forest bathing is an ancient Japanese art of relaxation known as shinrin yoku. The practice encourages calm and quiet amongst trees and nature to combat stress, anxiety and overwhelm – especially in busy urban environments.
By opening your senses to nature and practising gentle breathing techniques, forest bathing can boost your wellbeing and help your feel closer to nature on a deeper level, re-centring your mind from negative thoughts.
Steps to master the art of forest bathing
First things first – there’s no right or wrong way to practice forest bathing. Like everyone else, your journey will be unique based on the individual stresses and anxieties you’re feeling. Getting started is the hardest part, but we’ve tried to make it as easy and possible for you to have a go at forest bathing for yourself.
Head out alone
Forest bathing is a deeply personal experience – one that’s all about finding your connection with nature. That’s why it’s best to head out alone to prevent anyone – or anything – from disturbing your journey.
You can of course go out with a loved one if you prefer, but try not to talk to each other and allow yourselves all the space you need to really feel your surroundings.
You might want to walk separate paths, and that’s okay. Don’t feel guilty about heading off on your own for a little while. You’ll come back to each other when you’re ready.
Find the perfect spot
You might already have a place that means a lot to you, or you might prefer to experience somewhere new. Either way, look for an outdoor space that offers natural enrichment, like trees, shrubs, flowers, birds and bees. A gorgeous woodland environment offers all of this and more – find somewhere to explore using the Forestry England search tool.
Leave your phone, headphones and other electronics behind so you can switch off away from life’s little distractions. You’ll have a far more enriching experience if you allow yourself to embrace your natural surroundings fully.
Take your time
The most important thing while forest bathing is to take your time while you wander. Follow your nose and let your instincts guide you. As you walk, listen to where your body wants to go and try not to overthink it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t end up anywhere – just being out in nature is enough.
Feel your surroundings
Take some time to absorb your surroundings and use your senses to home in on what you see, hear, feel and smell.
Breathe in the fresh air using slow, deep breaths. Pay attention to new and familiar smells. Watch any wildlife you see and listen to their unique calls and sounds.
Run your hands through the soft grass and place your fingertips on tree trunks. Allow yourself to explore every part of your surroundings. While you do this, think about how you’re feeling. Focus on your positive thoughts and let a sense of calm wash over you as you discover more about your environment.
What you’re doing here is practising mindfulness, allowing yourself to be present in your surroundings.
Practise mindful observation
When you’re ready, find a comfortable spot to sit or stand and watch what’s going on around you. Even if you feel there’s little happening, you’ll be surprised at what you see when you look closely enough.
Try to keep your eyes open while you sit, taking in the colours of nature. Studies show that greens and blues are some of the most soothing colours and can help you enter a deeper state of relaxation. However, if you feel you want to close your eyes at any point, let your instincts take over. Forest bathing is all about you and what you need.
Avoid the urge to let your mind wander too far. If you feel yourself worrying about all the things you need to do or start dwelling on the stresses you’re going through, re-centre your thoughts back to nature.
Breathing is one of the most crucial parts of forest bathing. Inhale long, deep breaths through your nose, letting your stomach expand and release as you gently exhale through your mouth. Focus on slowing down your breathing as your body starts to relax and release negative thoughts.
Remember – forest bathing is a process
When forest bathing for the first time, you may not feel comfortable enough to do it for long. That’s totally okay. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend outside, aiming for two hours when you’re ready.
Feeling inspired? Whether you’re a forest bathing expert or a complete beginner, we’d love to know more about your experience and how it made you feel. Get in touch to let us know.
Content published by Nature’s Journey CBD Wellness is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health-related programme