The Benefits Of Forest Bathing
Forest bathing is a simple concept - spend time in woodland and it’ll help balance your mind, rejuvenating your body and help you feel refreshed and relaxed.
What is 'forest bathing'?
It has slowly grown into holiday trend in the UK having been an integral part of Japanese culture for decades.The practice was developed in Japan in the 1980s and is known as ‘Shinrin-yoku’ - which literally translates to ‘forest bathing’. It doesn’t, however, have anything to do with taking your clothes off in the woods.
People are encouraged to go into the forest to walk, sit or meditate under the trees and, as a form, is now regarded as an important aspect of healthcare and healing - with several leading experts endorsing its benefits.
It’s thought this form of relaxation helps remedy stress and fatigue, and spending time in a wooded area has an overall positive effect.
More and more people in the UK are experience the benefits, and taking the time to explore nature.
The key isn’t to think of it as a hike - more of a stroll through the woods, taking the time to immerse yourself in the sounds and smells of the forest, taking in the rustle of the leaves, the trickle of a stream and crunch of the forest floor.
Dr Saima Latif, Psychologist at Psychology Direct said: “Spending time in a forest, boosts the immune system functioning, reduces blood pressure, reduces stress improves the mood and ability to focus, increases energy levels and sleep, allows deeper and clearer intuition, an increased flow of energy and an overall increased sense of happiness.”
Forest bathing on holiday
By simply being in nature, forest bathing is thought to bridge the gap between us and the natural world.
With more and more of us living in cities never before have we been so divorced from nature - so the benefits of unplugging from technology and embracing the outdoors are thought to have a relatively quick effect on our state of mind.
Forest bathing has been shown to fight fatigue and trigger hormones and processes in our body that improve sleep. It’s also been shown to reduce dopamine and cortisol levels, meaning it reduces stress and calms the body and mind.
A recent study of a group of men showed that anxiety, depression and confusion levels were improved after walking in a forest compared to walking in an urban area.
How to forest bathe
Shinrin-yoku forests in Japan are usually made up mainly of conifer trees, but other trees are still beneficial for forest bathing.
Regardless of the type of tree, the idea is to walk into the forest and soak in the atmosphere - the sights, sounds, tastes and smells and fully experience the surroundings. According to therapy groups in Japan the is to slow down and become immersed in the natural environment.
Lying on the ground, meditating, collecting bits of the forest and noticing the foliage are some of the different ways you can forest bathe. It might remind you of walking in the woods as a child!
How often should you do it?
The more the better, but research shows that results are seen after just one trip - lasting up to a week after.
Where to go
Wherever there is a forest! We can vouch for Bluestone’s 500 acres of ancient woodland - our nature trails are ideal for walking as a family and taking the time to reconnect with the natural environment. Autumn is a wonderful time to take in the woodland as the seasons change and the leaves put on a kaleidoscope of a show.
For guided experiences, our Free Rangers take the children exploring our trails, collecting bugs and making nature art. Parents can join in the fun while the little ones have fun and learn about their surroundings and what makes the forest tick.
Why a holiday is essential to your health
A study led by Nuffield Health in 2012 showed that those who didn't go away for a break had higher blood pressure, didn't sleep as well and had higher levels of stress. A dozen volunteers were monitored through a summer, measuring heart rate, sleep patterns and resilience to stress. The benefits of the break lasted at least a fortnight longer than the vacation and the study claimed it could be felt for months in some cases.
Corinne Usher, who managed and led NHS mental health psychological services in Buckinghamshire for 20 years, told MailOnline: “Not taking our full annual leave entitlement can lead to people feeling resentful towards colleagues in the workplace, and more likely to make mistakes.
“There is a lot of research into the beneficial effects of taking a holiday, such as making us more creative problem solvers, refreshing our motivation, increasing levels of happiness, and lowering levels of stress and emotional exhaustion.
“These promote greater survival rates for people at risk of heart problems and better family relationships, to name a few.”
It’s not surprising that holidays help us de-stress, because we do things that give us pleasure and distract our mind. Travel provides a much needed break from hectic lifestyles, which in turn, helps us feel less stressed.
There’s a reason we describe Bluestone as ‘free range’ - no schedules, no stress.
We design our breaks so that you can enjoy our 500 acres of Pembrokeshire countryside - rich in forest and woodland. Our nature trails give you the opportunity to reconnect, giving children the chance to enjoy the outdoors - whether that’s pond dipping or bug hunts.
Wander along our Nature Trail through the beautiful ancient forest and let all your senses soak up the babbling brooks and river.