There’s a video going around social media about the Japanese practice of “forest bathing,” and it’s a concept I believe in and love.
The Japanese phrase for “forest bathing” — or taking in the forest atmosphere — is “shinrin-yoku,” and the government has been promoting it since the 1980s.
Japanese researchers have spent a lot of time studying the effects of shinrin-yoku. They’ve found that time spent in forest environments reduces feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger and improves energy. On the physiological front, it promotes lower levels of stress hormone, lower pulse, and lower blood pressure. Researchers have even found that forest bathing increases the activity of “natural killer” cells in the immune system. These cells respond to viruses and tumors. The scientists attribute the change to phytoncides, or the oils trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. As forest bathers inhale them, they’re inhaling better immune system health.
The concept behind forest bathing is one of the reasons I offer walking therapy sessions on the Boise greenbelt. Getting out in nature is good for the soul, and there’s science to prove it.