What is forest bathing and how does this Japanese natural healing method work? How often and how long should you do forest bathing? If you have just heard about the so-called forest bathing or the Shinrin Yoku and want to know more about its positive effect on your health, you have come to the right place.
In Japan, forest bathing is a recognized form of therapy and a field of scientific research at many universities. The health-promoting effects of a stay in the forest on body, mind and soul have been researched for several decades. It has been discovered that forest bathing not only lowers blood pressure, pulse and stress, but even reduces the risk of cancer.
In this article I would like to introduce you to everything you need to know about forest bathing - from the definition, to the effect, to the answers to common questions.
Here is another short Table of contents:
- How does it work?
- Mindfulness with all senses
- Effect on the body
- How long and how often?
- What are terpenes?
- Sayings and quotes
- Frequently asked questions about mindfulness in the forest
- Closing words
What is forest bathing?
What is forest bathing? One definition of forest bathing is: "Forest bathing is a conscious stay in the forest to increase physical and mental health, as well as to strengthen the connection to nature."
It is important that you spend your time in the forest mindfully and perceive your surroundings with as many senses as possible. This way you can immerse yourself in the silence of nature while bathing in the forest, switch off your head and come to rest.
Forest bathing - how does it work?
I am always asked about forest bathing exercises. I usually first make it clear that the term "exercises" for forest bathing is rather inappropriate, because it is not about achieving something, practicing or training. Rather, it is about simply perceiving what is right now. If I had to give you instructions for forest bathing in one sentence, it would be like this: "Take your time, let your senses wander, turn off your head and electronics, and enjoy the stillness of nature."
It is in no way to capture goals or the forest with the mind. This only creates unnecessary pressure and reduces relaxation. Instead, the point is to capture the forest experience and sense. This works best when you use your mind or Switch off your mind. Forest bathing is therefore so healing for body, mind and soulbecause you give the mind, which is overloaded in everyday life, a break and turn your attention to your soul and body.
Ideas for forest bathing
- Mindful Walking
- Hug a tree
- Put under a tree
- Let the senses roam
- Meditation and Body Scan
- Yoga, Qi Gong or Taiji
- Conscious breathing and breathing exercises
- Walk barefoot
- Herb walks
- Guided forest bathing tours
"Tree hugging" is an experience for human sense of touch and quite essential part of forest bath. It can preserve energies and beneficial effects of trees and make us more active, relaxed and healthy."Dr. Qing Li, "Father of Forest Medicine".
Forest bathing - mindfulness with all senses
The more senses you use during your bath in the forest, the more you arrive in the here and now and don't get lost in your thoughts. Of course, you don't have to use all of your senses at the same time, you can also consciously use them one after the other. Here are a few Ideas, with which you can Deceleration in nature especially well with your senses:
- Olfactory: Maybe you notice the intense smell of conifers, a bush is blooming next to you, or you smell the intense, earthy scent of forest floor.
- Auditory: Follow the rustling of the wind in the leaves, the chirping of the birds or the babbling of the stream next to you.
- Tactile: Feel the bark of a tree or hug it. In summer, it's best to walk barefoot so that you can feel the earth pressing between your toes with your feet. In autumn you can feel the wind on your skin.
- Visual: Watch how the light shines through between the trees and the leaves become moving shadows.
- Taste: You may find berries, herbs or mushrooms along the way to appeal to your sense of taste as well.
- Sense of balance: Balance on a fallen log or jump over a stream.
What does forest bathing do?
Forest bathing has a positive effect on health, Immune system and Well-being and has many other benefits. Most of these effects are based on hydrocarbon compounds in the forest plants, the so-called terpenes.
Scientific studies on forest bathing have now confirmed that by bathing in the forest for several hours, certain Killer cells are produced. These cells kill viruses and cancer cells and reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore the Heart Health promoted by regulating the risk factors of blood glucose levels, blood pressure, pulse and stress. The Time in the fresh air naturally also promotes the Lung Health.
On the Emotional level the bath in the forest connects you with nature, the cycle of the year and you also find more to yourself again. Especially in turbulent times, it is particularly important to allow yourself time out. Thereby you learn to feel oneself better again and helps the own Increase energy level. Through the forest and the soothing color green, will be Fears reduces, the Mood brightens and also the Sleep quality increases.
Here are briefly and concisely the Advantages of forest bathing summarized:
- strengthens the immune system
- improves blood sugar level
- lowers blood pressure, pulse and stress
- Increases the well-being
- mood brightening
- connects with nature and the cycle of the year
- Production of anti-cancer killer cells
- Promotion of lung health
- raises the energy level
Fun Fact: Anyone who completes a "forest bathing training" and instructs others in forest bathing can call themselves a forest bathing master.
How long and how often should you do forest bathing?
Quing Li recommends two forest days per monthsso that the healing power of nature comes into its own. Because then the natural killer cells increase by almost 40 percent and the effect lasts up to a month. If you have less time, then a day trip to the forest or park is a good idea, because this has similarly strong effects, but they only last for about a week.
If you want to do forest bathing in your weekly routine, then of course you can spend less time in the forest or park. Daily half an hour going for a walk in the forest or park and consciously activating one or two senses already has a beneficial effect on body, mind and soul.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the main component of the essential oilswhich are exhaled by trees and other plants. They thus often belong to the group of alcohols, aldehydes or glycosides. Plants use them to communicate with each other - or to exchange messages and ward off pests.
The terpenes are the basis for the healing effect of a walk in the forest, because the body absorbs the essential oils through breathing and skin. Because then comes our Nervous system to rest, in that the Sympathetic nervous system calms and with the parasympathetic nervous system the Regeneration activated will.
Forest bathing - sayings and quotes
Here you can find some inspiring sayings about forest bathing:
- "Peace can only be found in the woods." (Michelangelo)
- "When you're standing all alone in the woods like that, it's very hard to understand what you're going to offices and movie theaters for. And suddenly you don't want all that anymore." (Erich Kästner)
- "The breath of the trees gives us life." (Roswitha Bloch)
If you are looking for more sayings about forest bathing, forest and nature, then feel free to check out our compilation of the best Forest Quotes.
Tip: You can print out a nice saying about forest bathing and hang it on your bulletin board or refrigerator. That way, you'll always remind yourself that it's time for a long walk in the woods again.
FAQ on mindfulness exercise in the forest
Here I answer the most frequently asked questions about forest bathing briefly and concisely.
How does forest bathing work?
There is no set protocol for forest bathing. It's about spending time in the forest in a mindful and conscious way. This can be a walk, a meditation, a yoga exercise or even a herbal hike.
How does forest bathing work?
Forest bathing has a health-promoting effect on body, mind and soul. Pulse, blood pressure and stress are reduced, the body's own regeneration is stimulated and even cancer cells are destroyed. You also reduce anxiety and increase the quality of your sleep.
Where does forest bathing come from?
Forest bathing originates from Japan, where it is called Shinrin Yoku and is both used as a recognized form of therapy and scientifically researched.
What does a forest lifeguard do?
A forest bathing guide has completed forest bathing training and leads participants on guided tours through the forest. He helps participants engage in the experience.
What are terpenes in the forest?
Terpenes are essential oils and messengers between plants that are exuded by trees. When absorbed through the skin and breath, terpenes have versatile health benefits.
Holistically healthy through forest bathing
When you live mindfully and consciously spend more time in nature, you strengthen your immune system, your well-being, relax your mind and thus do something for body, mind and soul. The terpenes contained in the forest are absorbed through the skin and breath and even ensure the production of cancer-inhibiting killer cells. Especially the hustle and bustle of the current time makes some deceleration and mindfulness in the forest more necessary than ever.
If a question about forest bathing has remained unanswered, feel free to leave me a comment. And now off into the forest with you!
All the best,
P.S.: If you are interested in the Japanese natural healing method Shinrin Yoku, then maybe you are interested in other articles from the field of health. For example, we recommend the articles on diet-related diseases, salutogenesis instead of pathogenesis or Veganism and estrogens.
1 Qing Li (2009):: Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function, Nippon Medical School, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26332680_Effect_of_forest_bathing_trips_on_human_immune_function. [16.12.2021].
2 M. M. Hansen, R. Jones, K. Tocchini: Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555. [16.12.2021].
3 A. Schuh, G. Immich (2013): Kur- und Heilwald in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Evaluation, summary report and scientific expertise, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, https://ihrs-en.ibe.med.uni-muenchen.de/health-resorts/forest-therapy/review-waldtherapie-final.pdf. [16.12.2021].
4 Center for Health: My Doctor, the Forest, https://www.zentrum-der-gesundheit.de/bibliothek/ratgeber/lebenshilfe/waldspaziergang-ia. [16.12.2021].
5 MDR: Forest bathing is the new walking, https://www.mdr.de/wissen/waldbaden-gegen-krebs100.html. [16.12.2021].