When I want to slow my mind, let go of a long day or seek more joy in my life, I step into the forest. Getting my feet on the dirt and letting the green of the trees and warmth of the sunlight wash over me, works every time. I always come out of the forest more relaxed than when I stepped in.
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, was developed in Japan in the 1980s. It means taking in the forest atmosphere. Nina Smiley, co-author of Mindfulness in Nature describes Forest Bathing as “mindfulness meets nature” in this Boston Globe Article, The un-hike: Forest bathing for beginners.
Even though I live in the city, a walk in the woods is never far away. If you want to smile more and stress less, try forest bathing. If you don’t live close to a forest, try one of these 5 other ways to enjoy a forest bath.
Forest Bathing: 5 simple ways to stress less and smile more
1. Go for a walk in the park.
Surround yourself with the forest you have. Look for nearby parks, community gardens or anywhere with greens or trees. This tiny guide to parké diem will help.
2. Take care of a plant.
In How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science, and Practical Wisdom, author Jonathan Fields explains that being amongst trees and nature increases immune response, decreases markers for inflammation, and can be a mood booster, as well. He also says there is research that shows that simply having a plant in view can affect your mood. If you have a plant in view, it can decrease anger dramatically.
4. Walk mindfully wherever you are.
There are always opportunities to be more mindful when you are walking. Give your attention to your surroundings. One walking meditation I really enjoy is noticing something beautiful and saying, “this is love.” Interestingly, the more love I notice, the more love I notice.
5. Write about forest bathing.
Even though I’m writing this article in an airport far from the forest, I can feel the good vibes of forest bathing. Just by turning my attention to remembering how the dirt and leaves crunched under my hiking shoes, and how the sun streamed through the trees, I am transported. Write about how you feel when you are in nature.