As you may have noticed, we’re huge fans of exploring the great outdoors. Maintaining that connection with the natural world is more important than ever at this time of year, and can have a number of positive effects on the mind, body and soul. This is just one of the reasons why we’re so excited about the rising popularity of forest bathing in the UK!
What exactly is forest bathing?
Hailing from Japan, forest bathing – or shinrin yoku as it is officially known – is the practice of relaxing in a forest setting.
With mindfulness and deep breathing a part of the mix, forest bathing has become a vital part of the self-care movement we’ve been experiencing since the Covid-19 pandemic. With access to the country’s most beautiful green spaces and tranquil places back on the menu, forest bathing enthusiasts can all get back to de-stressing and boosting their wellbeing once more.
What’s the history of forest bathing?
The practice of forest bathing isn’t as old as you might think. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t an ancient Japanese tradition. While based on Shinto and Buddhist practices, the ritual of forest bathing was actually introduced by the Japanese government just over 40 years ago in response to a public health crisis. A nationwide increase in stress was causing an alarming spike in the prevalence of auto-immune diseases.
Four decades on, forest bathing remains more popular than ever both in Japan and across the wider world. There are now some 48 (and counting) official forest therapy trails in Japan. There are a growing number of forest bathing advocates and opportunities available in the UK too, with Forestry England even running dedicated family forest bathing sessions at selected sites.
So, does forest bathing really work?
There have been several studies into the effectiveness of forest bathing for health and relaxation, and the results are quite staggering considering that forest bathing can be practised for free and with minimal effort. Here National Trust explains the impact forest bathing has on the individual:
“The results showed that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improve concentration and memory. They also found that trees release chemicals called phytoncides, which have a protective antimicrobial effect on human bodies and thereby boost the immune system. As a result of this research, the Japanese government introduced ‘shinrin-yoku’ as a national health programme.”
How can you get started with forest bathing?
Forest bathing is so simple to do, which means you can reap the rewards of a less stressful and more relaxing lifestyle quicker than you think. Just visit your favourite leafy spot – whether that’s a woodland walk or pitching up in a secluded part of your garden – and pay attention.
Forest bathing isn’t just about your location, you have to be in tune with your surroundings to really feel the effects. Use all of your senses to see, feel, smell and listen to nature, while breathing slowly and deeply. You should also turn off any devices you have. Take the time to enjoy the forest, and all its sights and sounds, and leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Can I use forest bathing at home?
Yes, you can! The popularity of forest bathing and the slow movement in general is influencing our interiors too, with every room of the home able to receive that natural touch.
Decorate with a colour palette inspired by the natural world, use real or faux foliage throughout your scheme, incorporate mood lighting to make the most of natural light and shade, add cosy and nature-inspired touches to every room, and nurture all the senses by playing with scents and music to create your own indoor forest bathing experience.
Bringing the outdoors in and enjoying natural beauty from the comfort of our own homes is what inspires us to keep our collection packed full of the world’s most beautiful and sustainable fibres. Explore our full range today to discover the all-natural goodies that’ll help you enjoy every inch of your home.