Wash Off Those Winter Blues at a Forest Near You
As we begin March you might feel like you’re succumbing to the winter blues. It is imperative that we focus on our physical and mental wellness as we spend an increasing amount of time indoors, mostly alone. There is something you can do to break from your established ‘pandemic schedule,’ and it involves taking some time to bathe outdoors.
No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. Outdoor bathing in the middle of March is entirely possible, and quite enjoyable in fact! We aren’t necessarily talking about bathing of the hygienic sorts. Just like you can sunbathe, you can also participate in something called forest- bathing. All you need are two things: a forest and an open mind.
Forest-bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, was formally introduced in Japan in the 1980s as a holistic approach to combat stress, increase mental health, and treat countless other maladies associated with a busy office-based work life, or in our case a pandemic-induced home life. This form of ‘ecotherapy’ is becoming an increasingly popular prescription that not only provides a benefit to the individual, but also supports the protection and preservation of our wild places.
How do you forest-bathe and why should you give it a shot? Well, the good news is if you’re someone already going outdoors on walks or hikes, you’re nearly there. Forest bathing is akin to ‘taking a walk in the woods’, but the key difference is how you take that walk in the woods. It is all about taking in the forest atmosphere. Listen to the birds in the trees, the light breeze blowing through the branches. Feel the sun on your face, or the bite of the cold on your cheeks. See the designs formed in the snow, or how the clouds curl along the horizon. It is an individual experience, but the key is to slow down and take the time to let the forest wash over you. Countless studies have shown how forest-bathing can improve health by reducing blood pressure, decreasing the risk of heart attack, combating obesity and diabetes, increasing energy and improving sleep, and much more. All of these benefits employ the forest as your doctor, counsellor, and creative comrade.
You can forest-bathe anywhere that has a natural environment. Ideally, you would make your way to somewhere such as the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, however, a city park can serve just as well. It is important to have access to the wilderness because we now understand how vital it can be to our health. Due to the success of forest- bathing in Japan, the country now has 62 designated therapeutic woods that host approximately 5 million visitors annually; these have conveniently become sacred and protected lands in the process.
Ultimately, forest bathing is a practice many of us are already involved in, it is just a matter of changing our perspective and spending time in a forest as opposed to simply passing through.
If you are interested in participating in a future guided forest-bath contact Curtis at email@example.com. For more information please view www.shorturl.at/mDET7
by Curtis Polowick