What Forest Bathing Does For Us

Hello Dear Ones:

Last week, I told you about how I found my own personal forest and how surprised I was to find out that the healing experiences I discovered in the forest were actually a “thing.” That thing, as I told you, is called “Forest Bathing.”

What astounded me about forest bathing, or even being in restorative, beautiful surroundings, is the actual, research results that have been documented for our health and our lives.  

Just to remind us, Forest Bathing, or, as the Japanese call it Shinrin-Yoku, (also known as nature therapy) asks participants to immerse themselves in nature using all five sense in a mindful way.

Forest Bathing Can be Done in the Winter

Mihal Lucit: The Frozen Forest

These findings are so startlingly powerful that I am just going to list them here:

More Energetic

1. People who live and interact in green spaces (GS) report being more energetic, in good overall health and, have more of a sense of meaningful purpose in life. (Sifferlin A. The healing power of nature. Time Mag. 2016;188:24–26.)

Happiness and Brain Power

2. Current scientific findings are illuminating what humans intuitively know: nature has great benefits for the human brain and this is shown through increased happiness, health/well-being and cognition. (Williams F. This Is Your Brain on Nature. Natl. Geogr. 2016:229.)

Less Pain Medication

3. When patients (in a tightly controlled research study) had a view of trees out their hospital window, they left the hospital a day earlier, needed less pain medication, and fewer negative nurse’s notes than those patients who had the view of a brick wall. (Research by Roger Ulrich, reported by Dr. Esther Sternberg in a conversation with Krista Tippett in OnBeing, October 2013.)

Lower Blood Pressure, Lower Cortisol, Better Mood

4.Research on Forest Bathing shows that walking in nature can lower your blood pressure, pulse rate, and cortisol levels, improves moods, and increases heart rate variability. And that’s a good thing – we want increased heart rate variability. It means that our heart rate is resilient and speeds up during danger or activity but slows down during rest. We are healthy physically and mentally when we have more heart rate variability. (Research by Dr. Yoshifumi Miyazaki at Chiba University’s Center for Environment and reported in The Joy of Forest Bathing by Melanie Choukas-Bradley, 2018, Quarto Publishing, NY).

Boost Immunity to Cancer

5. Here’s an exciting finding that was quite new to me. Trees emit compounds called phytoncides in order to protect themselves from pathogens. When we ingest these compounds they appear to boost our immunity to cancer by boosting our natural killer cells. (Dr. Qing Li at the Nippon Medical School also reported in the Joy of Forest Bathing – see above. )

Wintertime Forest Bathing

Mark Bonica: Walk in the Woods

But, It Is Winter Where I Live

Even though we are in the depths of winter here, in Chicago, I ave promised myself to spend more times outside in the little woods near my home. I love writing these blogs and it is too easy to stay at my computer writing about forest bathing instead of actually doing it.

I have promised myself that as soon as I finish this blog, I will take a walk outside in my woods and feel an infusion of its very healing energy.

 What Promise Will You Make to Yourself?

I hope you will do the same and offer a comment below, telling us about how you left your stress in your car, on your kitchen counter, or at your desk and found your way outdoors!

Love and Gratitude,

AnnMerle

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