Just 20 minutes of forest bathing will reduce your stress and improve your health
Angry bosses, upcoming exams, bad relationships… Life is not necessarily full of happiness, and we have to somehow manage the stress that we face in our everyday life.
Recently, stressed city-workers are attracted to “Shinrin-yoku“ or “forest bathing”– a form of therapy developed in Japan during the 1980s.
Forest bathing involves any activities which connect with the natural environment, such as walking in a park, visiting gardens, camping, or climbing a mountain. It has many positive effects on both mental and physical health.
Imagine that taking just 20 minutes out of your day could make you happier. Forest bathing, just being in a place that provides you with a sense of nature, has shown to reduce stress levels significantly.
Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and her colleague conducted a research on effective nature experience.
Hunter says forest bathing lowers the level of the stress hormone, cortisol “no matter when or where it is taken, and under the normal circumstances of modern life, with its unpredictability and hectic scheduling”.
Forest bathing improves your physical state such as cardiac illness, hypertension, and chronic pain. It is a low-cost alternative to medicine, and it can improve our physical health.
Forest bathing’s benefits may not be limited to people seeking to improve their physical health, but also their mental health.
In our society, suicide remains a serious concern. According to Mindframe, at least eight people, on average, commit suicide in Australia each day.
Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that sounds of nature help our body relax and function normally. By contrast, artificial sounds are linked to psychological stress such as anxiety and depression. (Why Nature Sounds Help You Relax, According to Science)
Nature in education
David Hayward from the University of Tasmania studied the effect of nature experience on students’ mental health in 2016.
He says outdoor trainings improve the satisfaction and emotional balance of students. In addition, teachers who conducted outdoor trainings loved their job more.
More outdoor activities in education from primary school or high school will be likely to help individuals to make a habit of interacting with nature on a daily basis.
So how can I start forest bathing?
Very simple 3 steps.
1. Find a place where you can feel nature.
It can be in a park, on your way home, river, or even your balcony with small plants. The place where you feel calm and comfortable to walk or sit.
2. Forget your phone.
This might be difficult for some of you but you’ll get used to it. It feels very nice not to be restricted by the constant wave of messaging or emails. Only for a few moments, forget about the hustle and bustle of a city life. You will find a small happiness that you couldn’t realise before.
3. Use your sense
Listen to the sound. Notice the flowers, plants, trees, and stones. Smell the air. This will take you into the natural world.
And most importantly, enjoy being part of nature.
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