OK so this may not be completely camping related but as most campers enjoy the outdoors, like ourselves we like to offer some other benefits of nature and getting outside from time to time and this is one of these things. Forest Bathing is becoming increasingly popular not only in the UK but around the world. With great health benefits and a truly relaxing experience, why would you not want to try it?
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku as it is known in Japan, where it was first practised, has nothing to do with water or taking bathing yourself in water within a forest. It means to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the forest to prevent illness or aid your health. A practice that will restore and rejuvenate your being. It is also known as Forest Therapy in many countries.
Forest bathing was developed in Japan in the 1980s and has been used as a preventative in healthcare since this time. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish Shinrin-Yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.
There are now many training providers that will help you gain accreditation in becoming a guided forest therapist. There are even places you can go that offer these guided forest therapy walks such as with natureandtherapy.co.uk and forest-therapy-scotland.com. Although Forest Bathing originated in Japan it is recognised almost globally now for the health benefits it has to offer and the UK is no exception.
Even some of our doctors are taking a leaf out of Japan’s book so to speak by prescribing nature to their patients. I have written a post about this and you can read it at: https://campmehappy.com/nature-now-prescribed-by-doctors
How to Forest Bathe
Simply take time to go a gentle stroll through a forest or find a place to sit or lie quietly and just take in everything around you. It really is as simple as that. If you like at first to prove that it works it is worth mentally noting the changes you feel within yourself such as how you relax or your heart rate lowering as well as what you see, hear smell and feel.
Do these sights sounds or smells invoke feelings of calm or grounding? They may even bring back some childhood memories of playing with friends or fun family outings.
Just see what works best for you and go with the flow. Some people now choose to meditate or do yoga in nature to boost the health benefits of these activities.
Benefits of Forest Bathing
Many people know intuitively that spending time in nature is beneficial for them but over the past few decades there has been much research into what triggers the bodies responses to nature and how this helps improve our health both mentally and physically.
Here is a list of health benefits offered by forest bathing:
• Reduced blood pressure
• Reduced anxiety
• Boosts the immune system
• Reduces stress
• Improved sleep
• Improved concentration levels (even in those with ADHD)
• An increased feeling of wellness
• Improved mood
• Quicker recovery after surgery or serious illness
• Increased energy levels
If you choose to incorporate this into your life as a regular practice it can also help in several other ways such as:
• Increased and clearer intuition
• Increased sense of happiness, long term
• Increased creativity both mentally and physically
• Build deeper connections with the natural world
• Improved sleeping patterns
Could You Make it part of Your Life?
As campers, many of us already love the outdoors and spending time in nature. Although many of us like different styles of camping and some a mixture of maybe both wild and site camping, like us. All types of camping get us outdoors and into nature in some shape or form, but do you feel the benefit from it.
If you enjoy wild camping you are going to be likely to become fully immersed in your surroundings whilst camping and will probably gain more benefits than those who are on a commercial campsite. This is due to being fully surrounded by nature and having very few other humans around. I’d say almost anyone who has wild camped will have felt the relaxing benefits of forest bathing without knowing it.
Could you or would you be willing to take time out and spend a few hours forest bathing? Maybe on a free weekend or on a summers evening. Just taking time to sit and listen and watch nature, all the time breathing in the fresh air and varying scents nature has to offer.
Well long before I ever heard of forest bathing or knew about all these wonderful healing effects of nature, I was doing it.
I used to love going down to the local park and spending time just lazing about and taking it all in. I had my favourite spot where I used to go regularly with my beloved dog at the time. Looking back, I was always more positive and relaxed then.
I lost my beloved dog which meant I wasn’t in the park as often then I started working away and simply didn’t have as much time. Then the park cut down many of the trees where I used to laze to plant new ones and I suddenly found myself not going to the park as I felt my favourite had somewhat been destroyed.
Work had become stressful and I wasn’t taking as much time to myself as a should have been and the stress and sleepless nights started to become an issue and negatively affect my health. That is when I started to look back to nature to de-stress and when I first heard of forest bathing.
Now I like to go a walk in the park and have rediscovered new corners that are just perfect for spending time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. I normally just take my little seat pad to sit on or find a bench if the park is not busy. If going in good weather a little picnic blanket to sit or lie on is also been good.
I have also just purchased a hammock (not a proper camping one) that I can take if planning to spend a few hours there. I hope to set up a little day camp among the trees and just soak in all the nature has to offer.
This year I plan to make this a regular part of my life as it’s something I immensly enjoy as well as being very beneficial for my health and well being.
I urge you to give it a go and see what all nature has to offer you. Find a local park or wooded area and just go! It costs nothing but time and indulging your senses, an hour a week is very little if it can bring positive healthy changes to your life.