Mental health is becoming more and more of an issue in today’s world. The World Health Organization details that one in four people will be affected by some form of mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives – this number amounts to around 450 million people worldwide.
The mental health epidemic is caused by several factors, ranging from a lack of work-life balance to the socio-political climate that individuals are subjected to on a daily basis. However, there seems to be another factor that is affecting the mental health of millions all over the globe.
A study published by the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal has found a link between air pollution and the mental health of people who live in environments with poor air quality, proving that there is indeed a connection between the two. So how do we deal with this problem? Well, if pollution causes adverse effects on mental health, then it wouldn’t be a stretch to believe that nature has the opposite effect – this is where forest bathing comes in. But what is forest bathing and what benefits does it have? Read on to learn more about forest bathing and its positive effect on your mental health.
What is Forest Bathing? Forest bathing stems from the Japanese term shinrin-yoku that literally translates to “taking in the forest atmosphere.” Forest bathing is taking a walk in a forest or any place that is attuned to nature. This can range from lush landscapes such as the Yosemite National Park or any of your local parks that have an abundance of trees and greenery. Being this close to nature gives people a sense of peace and serenity. Indeed, the calming energy that comes with being immersed in nature is a powerful thing that provides people with many benefits.
Benefits of Forest Bathing: As previously stated, forest bathing provides practitioners with a slew of benefits. Unsurprisingly, many of these benefits mostly have to do with stress relief and relaxation. Parsley Health lists some of the benefits of forest bathing, which include improved sleep quality and a better mood. What’s more, a study conducted by researchers from Chiba University found that being exposed to nature also raises your immunity levels, thus giving you more protection from diseases.
How to Forest Bathe: To start forest bathing, the first thing you have to do is establish a routine. Forest bathing only works if you are consistent with it, so one tip is to set aside around 20 minutes for a walk at your local park or a nearby forest trail. Any space with nature will do, but how effective it is will vary. Another thing to address is whether to do it barefoot or not. While it isn’t a requirement, it wouldn’t hurt to try barefoot forest bathing. One thing to take note of is to make sure to check that the trail is clear of anything that may wound you. Other than that, take a deep breath of fresh air, feel the soil under your feet, run your hands slowly through the leaves, and relax.