How to Forest Bathe- The Mindful Practice of Japanese Forest Bathing – Shinrin-Yoku

Forest bathing – Shinrin-Yoku

Forest bathing is inspired by the Japanese deep respect for nature and the belief that spending time in a forested environment can have enourmously positive effects on one’s health. 

Forest bathing, or “shinrin-yoku” in Japanese, is a practice that involves immersing (bathing) oneself in a natural forest environment to promote mental and physical well-being. It goes beyond simple outdoor activities and encourages individuals to engage all their senses while in nature. 

Research links this practice of Shinrin-yoku – forest bathing – to various health benefits, including reduced stress, improved mood, and enhanced immune function. It’s a mindful and intentional way of connecting with nature to reap its therapeutic effects.

Key Aspects of Forest Bathing – Shinrin Yoku

1. Mindful Presence: 

Forest bathing emphasizes being present in the moment. Practitioners are encouraged to engage their senses fully, paying attention to the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the forest. Such a practice takes you away from the past and the future and guides you into the now – the only moment that will ever exist.

2. Slow Movement: 

Unlike a brisk hike or exercise, forest bathing involves slow and deliberate movement. This allows individuals to fully experience their surroundings and connect with nature at a relaxed pace. Remember to breath into your stomach as you proceed through nature.

3. Therapeutic Environment: 

The natural compounds released by trees, known as phytoncides, have been studied for their potential health benefits. These compounds are believed to boost the immune system and contribute to the overall well-being of individuals in forested areas.

4. Stress Reduction: 

Spending time in nature, particularly in a forest setting, has been associated with lowered cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and reduced feelings of stress and anxiety. Feel how your shoulders fall down into place and let the calm of the forest enter you.

5. Improved Mood: 

Forest bathing has been linked to enhanced mood and increased feelings of happiness. The calm and beauty of natural surroundings contribute to a sense of peace and relaxation. Again, take time for mindful breathing as you take in the scenery; allow the air to fill your lungs – take a short pause and exhale.

6. Connection with Nature: 

The practice of forest bathing fosters a deeper connection with the natural world, promoting a sense of awe and appreciation for the environment. In a busy world, sometimes we forget that we, human beings, are indeed nature ourselves. Being in nature is being in our natural environment.

Forest bathing, including research on forest bathing, is increasingly gaining attention for its many therapeutic effects, hence many wellness programs around the world now incorporate this practice. 

Whether you prefer a conscious solo walk in the woods or guided forest bathing sessions, the goal is to cultivate a harmonious relationship between you and the natural world for holistic health benefits. 

The most important thing is – get out in nature. It will do you good in so many ways.

References on Research about Forest Bathing Shinrin-Yoku

Furuyashiki, Akemi et al.(2019). A comparative study of the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku) on working age people with and without depressive tendencies. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Vol 24, No. 46.

Park, Bum Jin et al. (2010). The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across JapanEnvironmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Vol. 15.

Siah, Chiew Jiat Rosalind et al (2023). The effects of forest bathing on psychological well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Mental health Nursing. Vol. 32, Issue 4 (Open Access).


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©2024 Vibeke Vad Baunsgaard, PhD

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