"I first heard about ‘forest bathing’ in a botanical medicine class,” says Dr. Briana Lutz, a naturopathic doctor in Vancouver. “I could vividly picture just submerging myself in the forest. It’s such a cool idea.”
Forest bathing—which is not actually taking a bath in the woods, but simply spending time there, walking around in a relaxed way and opening your senses to the natural world—is an idea that came out of Japan in the 1980s. It’s a common sense concept. After all, stepping away from a busy, noisy city and soaking up some peace and quiet is bound to make you feel better. But researchers have identified a huge list of documented health benefits too, such as:
• reduced blood pressure
• better immune system functioning, thanks to an increase in our body’s NK cells
• increased ability to focus
• reduced stress, especially levels of the stress hormone cortisol
• faster recovery from illness or surgery
• better sleep, mood and energy
• a boost in creative problem-solving
It’s not surprising that stressed-out North Americans have embraced the practice in the last few years, with spas, retreats, gardens and parks hosting guided walks and meditations. Trendspotting agency Garden Media Group also touts forest bathing as one of the top North American trends of 2017, saying that “forest bathing is today where yoga was 30 years ago.”
Shinrin yoku translates to “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere” in Japanese.
“Houseplants and herb pots are an easy way to bring some of the benefits of forest bathing into your home. From a healing perspective, it’s amazing to think that you can change your cells."