Making Nature Part of your Wellness Practice
Ringing in a new year often includes taking some time to reflect on our lifestyles, and add some healthy changes. Living in the Alberni Valley, we can attest that one easy, effective, and very enjoyable healthy habit is spending time in nature. Regardless of the season or the reason, we believe outdoor activities is always time well spent, with multiple health benefits. And the beautiful Alberni Valley offers an endless list of ways to do so. We invite you try forest bathing, another way to enjoy the amazing nature all around us!
What is Forest Bathing?
Originating in Japan (known as Shinrin-yoku) in the 1980’s, forest bathing or forest therapy is the concept of using the restorative effects of nature to reduce the stresses we feel from our everyday lives. There is documented scientific research on the health benefits, as well as guides on how to get started with forest bathing. Not to be confused with hiking, forest bathing is slower paced and encourages a more focus on the details of the journey.
To get started it’s as simple as just finding a nearby forest, we have listed a few easy access favourites below. Once in the forest, and fully surrounded by nature, adjust your mindset and take your time. Engage with all of your senses. The visual elements of the forest may be the obvious place to start, study the mix of light and shadow, layers of colour, fine details and patterns. Listen for birds and animals, water, wind. Touch different textures, feel the wind and the sun, water in the stream. You can also discover many distinct scents as you explore the forest.
Pay attention to all of the sensations that appear and how you’re connecting to the natural world. This process of returning to nature can bring you to a heightened state of sensory awareness and a sense of tranquility. Within minutes of entering a green space, your body relaxes, blood pressure stabilizes, stress and muscle tension decreases, and the health benefits kick in.
Benefits of Forest Bathing
- Promotes Wellbeing
- Reduces Stress
- Boosts Immune System
- Increases Creativity
For a more detailed explanation check out the video from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.