What Is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing, also known as forest therapy, nature therapy, or walk and talk therapy, can be defined as the practice of spending time in a wooded area with the goals of providing wellness benefits. Essentially, this involves emerging oneself into a forest area and using all or some of the five senses to take in the environment.
Why Is It Important?
As we all have likely endured, cities are ever growing and becoming more industrialized, with smaller and smaller green areas to be found due to the increase in new businesses, condo buildings, and developments being built around our city. This has created fewer opportunities for spending quality time in nature, in addition to the accessibility component being negatively impacted.
Practitioners in the field have reported the act of forest bathing to improve overall aspects of mental health individually or in groups, as it has also been shown to support a sense of social connection when completed with others. In specific, research examining burnout symptoms that involved a forest bathing intervention reported reduce stress and improved mental well-being among all participants. Other positive effects include increased creativity, happier mood, feelings of calmness.
How To Practice Forest Bathing:
Let’s not complicate things- forest bathing does not need to involve formal exercises or practices such as intense hiking or camping (unless you want it too of course).
- Turn off technological devices
- Spending a couple hours in the wilderness
- Focus on the natural elements in the environment using your senses (sight, sounds, touch, smell): Observing the colours and patterns of tree bark, feeling it’s texture, tuning in to the sounds being created by natural sources such as birds chirping or leaves crunching.
Depending on your location, there are more specific professionals or guides beginning to emerge that may be available to help fully experience forest bathing. Alternatively, you can always ask your counsellor if you can move your sessions outdoors.