Since 1982, a form of nature therapy has been practiced in Japan called "Shinrinyoku," or forest bathing. However, this does not mean swimming in forest waters, but rather the metaphorical immersion in the forest atmosphere. This form of therapy has spilled over to us in recent years for good reason. After all, forest bathing has many benefits for our mental and physical health and can even slow down our aging process!
How does forest bathing work?
When was the last time you were in the forest? And not in the course of a walk or a hike, but a deliberate sojourn, during which you exploit the full health-promoting potential of the forest air. After all, forest bathing is not about exercising or working out, but rather a meditative approach to it. After all, if you spend a lot of time in the forest, you're also helping your health!
To achieve the best effect of forest bathing, we have put together a little guide for you today:
1. take enough time
Sounds obvious, but it's not that easy - when you go forest bathing, take enough time to enjoy your stay and really switch off! It is much more difficult to relax fully if you are already thinking about the next appointment in the back of your mind or trying to rush through the forest.
2. the right breathing
Since forest bathing has a very meditative approach, it is especially important to breathe slowly and deeply in order to enjoy the maximum relaxation and benefits of the forest air and to come to rest - switching off is the order of the day!
Being mindful is easier said than done! Forest bathing is not defined as a "conscious" stay in the forest for nothing. The point is to absorb the forest with all senses as concentrated as possible. So try to let all sounds, smells and impressions have an effect on you!
4. no distractions
The stay should be there to switch off the head! Therefore, refrain from distractions such as cell phones, music, large groups or other occupations. Even a book can already reduce the effects!
All these tips are there to make it easier for you to swim in the forest and to help you relax and switch off - you can also find more tips to give your head a break here.
And what happens in our body?
Provided you implement all of this and take full advantage of forest bathing, you can achieve many scientifically proven positive effects through it.
Mental effects of forest bathing
Conscious, extensive time spent in the forest not only has a calming effect, but also decelerates our everyday lives. Forest bathing has been proven to have positive effects on our sense of stress, depression, anger and can even help prevent burn-out or reduce the symptoms.
Effects on our immune system
Forest air has a positive effect on our body for several reasons: one of them is the much clearer air - because in the forest the air is 99% less polluted with dust particles than in the city. This makes it a boon to our respiratory system and lungs!
Apart from what is NOT in the forest air, it is mainly about what is contained much more in the air and that are terpenes.
Terpenes are messengers that plants secrete to communicate with each other. The goal is to ward off pests, fungi and bacteria. These are absorbed by us during a walk in the forest and this has a positive effect! Prof. Dr. Quing Li of the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, the founder of forest therapy, so to speak, has studied the influence of these organic compounds on our body and made a significant discovery: our immune system reacts to the terpenes by increasing the production of killer T-cells massively!
Killer cells play an important role in our immune system, because they are responsible for recognizing and destroying diseased body cells. In his experiments, he found that people who spent several hours in the forest two days in a row increased their killer cells by more than 50%. While this effect only lasts between 8 and 30 days if you stop afterwards, it has been shown that forest bathing can be a great support for our immune cells!
Effects on the rest of our body
Studies from the University of Vienna have also found that forest bathing can lower blood pressure, slow our heart rate, have a relaxing effect on our muscles, and even slow down our aging process!
Forest bathing has positive effects on our psyche and on our bodies, which we should definitely enjoy more! It reduces stress, contributes to relaxation, influences the aging process of the cells, by protecting our telomeres and has been proven to help strengthen the immune system! Even if forest stays cannot replace extensive medical treatment, we can definitely support our body with it in many ways!