What is forest bathing?
Forest bathing is a practice in Japan where it’s called shinrin-yoku. Shinrin meaning “forest”, and yoku translates to “bath.”
Forest bathing is not exercising, hiking, jogging or walking outdoors– it’s simply being with nature and focusing on connecting to the forest through your senses. Haida Bolton, who runs a nature camp in British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, said “I’ve been doing forest therapy all my life, and I didn’t know there was a term for it”. As an avid forest bather herself, she describes is as slower than hiking, creating the perfect atmosphere for participants to “interact with the forest with all their senses.”
How forests heal
Spending time in nature has long been associated with mental and physical health and used as a method to prevent illness.
People who spend time in the forest experience decreased cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress. A reduction in stress levels can assist in relieving high blood pressure, and heart and skin conditions.
High-stress levels may also weaken your immune system. Forest bathing reduces stress, thus enhancing the body’s natural defence system. Trees also release oils into the air, called phytoncides, inhaling these natural oils are known to help boost the immune system. Phytoncides are also linked with the creation of a type of white blood cell that supports immune system health and is linked to fighting infections and inflammation.
How to forest bathe
Picking up forest bathing is simple. Find a forest near you and spend some time there. It could be a forested area in your neighbourhood, a conservation area, or a nearby provincial or national park.
This interactive map can also help if you’re interested in finding fellow forest bathers.