Forest Bathing

Forest bathing is not literally taking a bath in the forest, but the act of basking in the environment of the forest. The Attention Restoration Theory suggests the ability to recover cognitive processes, fatigued by constant vigilance and attention, through exposure to nature. When you walk into any forest, there is an aroma you experience. This aroma is filled with various beneficial natural compounds that aid in your general health.

Why Bathe in A Forest?

Human physiology has evolved and adapted in the natural environment; we have formed an inherent dependence to nature. We have spent 99.9% of human existence in nature and are slowly losing our connection due to developments such as the Industrial Revolution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that Americans now spend 90% of their lives indoors.

As we continue to develop as a society, we spend more time indoors and in cars than we do outside, depleting us of beneficial natural compounds that cannot be found in city air. In order to restore that connection, Japanese cultures practice “Shinrin-yoku”, which directly translates to “forest-bathing”.

Forest bathing is the act of spending time in nature. This is done in a place where you can be fully surrounded by nature, this includes everything from hiking a trail through the woods to sitting in a backyard with trees. It is a time for you to disconnect yourself from your daily world and connect to nature and accept Earth’s energy.

Bathing Benefits 

Similar to essential oils, trees produce an aroma that is full of beneficial compounds. Phytoncides, also known as terpenes, are organic antimicrobial hydrocarbons found naturally in the essential oils of coniferous trees and plants. They aid in the activity and production of protective cells, known as lymphocytes, in your body. These specific cells are innate in your immune system and are meant to fight off infections or foreign substances and also kill tumor cells.

Several publications have proven that multiple days in the forest reduces blood pressure, pulse rate, stress hormonal markers, and inflammation. Being in the forest has also been found to aid with neurological health and immune health.

Convergent creativity – a process in which your choices are deliberate and have a straightforward solution - has been shown in research to have a direct correlation with the time you spend in nature. A study found that multi-day exposure to the forest increased convergent creativity and cognitive development. Making improvements to your brain and cognition are very important in preventing neurodegenerative diseases, reducing brain aging, and supporting neuronal networks.

Phytoncides directly impact your hormones too. They decrease the production of cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These hormones are responsible for your fight, flight, and stress responses, respectively. A decrease of these hormones causes a relaxed state in the brain and the body. In addition to having a beneficial effect on your stress hormones, spending time in the forest can also help your body use glucose efficiently. Research has indicated that increased noradrenaline causes a reduction in glucose disposal. If glucose is not properly disposed of, it can cause insulin resistance and cell inflammation.

By spending time in the forest, you create a stress-reducing environment for your body to focus on important reactions. These reactions are essential to cognitive health and proper immune response, and contribute to your overall well-being.

Find Your Tree’s Energy

Though you acquire phytoncides when exposed to a forest, there is more you can do to enhance the quality of your bathing experience. When you decide to indulge in your forest bathing experience, make sure to set your expectations for what you want to receive. If you are just looking for the beneficial aroma of the forest, then you might do something like take a hike in the woods or read a book out by the trees. If you are truly looking to enhance this connection with nature, you are going to want to find yourself within nature.

Living in the city or a distance from an actual forest does not limit your opportunity to practice the restorative art of forest bathing!

Below are some steps to help guide your connection with the Earth:
  • Find an area that you want to spend time in.
  • Become physically aware of where you are.
  • Spend a moment to focus on your breathing.
  • Activate your senses; go through each of the five senses and analyze all the things that nature offers.
  • Reflect and ponder on your thoughts.
  • Appreciate nature.

Forests provide us with clean air, resources, and food. Make sure to visit and spend time in nature.

Interested in improving your health and well-being? Learn more about how our Healthoscopy™ Solution can help you!
Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function, Li, Q (Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo ) 

Enhancement of Convergent Creativity Following a Multiday Wilderness Experience, Ferraro lll., FM (University of Nebraska at Lincoln ) 

Terpenes from Forests and Human Health, Cho, KS (Department of Biological Sciences, Konkuk University, Seoul, Korea; Research Center for Coupled Human and Natural Systems for Ecowelfare, Konkuk University, Seoul, Korea) 

The End of Alzheimer's, Bredesen, D, E (Buck Institute for Research on Aging) 
page 308

The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing, Plevin, J (Forest Bathing Club) 
page 169

Therapeutic Potential of Volatile Terpenes and Terpenoids from Forests for Inflammatory Diseases, Kim, T (Department of Biological Sciences, Research Center for Coupled Human and Natural Systems for Ecowelfare, Konkuk University, Seoul 05029, Korea) 

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