Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
Hiker walking on trail with poles.

Let’s take a walk in the forest.

Without any specific destination in mind, we will walk, observe and immerse ourselves in nature. Let our senses guide us.

When was the last time you entered the forest without plans? No final destination? Without a species to identify, a hill to climb or a viewpoint to conquer?

This is exactly the experience that a forest bathing session offers.

What is forest bathing?

Sunlight shines through the trees in a forest.

Forest bathing, forest therapy or Shinrin-yokuIt was developed in Japan in the 1980s.

There is a wealth of scientific evidence about the health benefits of spending time in nature. Because of this, forest bathing became an integral part of preventive and curative healthcare in Japanese medicine.

The idea is that when humans spend time in a natural environment, especially under a forest canopy, they experience rejuvenating benefits to the mind, body, and spirit.

This is not a novel concept. Traditionally, people sought the restorative benefits of the forest as part of their daily lives.

However, with the rise of industry and modern civilization, we moved away from the forest and into the hustle and bustle of the city. We lost contact with nature.

The healing benefits

person walking

It’s well known that spending time in nature is good for your health, but what kind of benefits do we really see?

People who spend time in the forest experience reduced levels of cortisol (stress hormone), which can help relieve high blood pressure, heart conditions, skin conditions and asthma.

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High levels of stress can compromise your immune system. By reducing these levels, your body’s natural defense system can work its magic. Trees release oils into the air, called phytoncides, and inhaling these natural essences can help boost the immune system.

children in the forest

Spending time in nature and experiencing reduced stress levels allows you to think more clearly and creatively. It can also boost your mood, focus, and energy.

To learn more about the science behind weather in nature, click here.

How to participate in forest therapy

Trail sign in a tree

It’s simple! To start, find a forest near you. It could be a wooded area in your neighbourhood, a local conservation area or a nearby provincial park.

Follow a trail into the forest. Once you are completely surrounded by nature, stop, close your eyes and activate your senses. Notice the smell of the earth, the sound of the birds, and the air moving across your skin.

If navigating your way through a forest bathing experience on your own seems a little overwhelming, there are many organizations that offer guided experiences. Check out the Forest and Nature Therapy Association or the Global Forest Therapy Institute to find a guided program or opportunity near you.

Forest bathing is a great way to spend time in nature. Ready to go? Find a park to spend time with our park locator.