If the pandemic has taught us anything, its the importance of looking after our wellbeing, so more and more people are finding ways to introduce wellness and relaxation into their everyday existence without sacrificing all the other things they enjoy.
One such wellness technique is ‘forest bathing’. Originating in Japan, the activity is as simple as immersing yourself in a quiet woodland setting and letting the wellness wash over you (no need for swim suits!).
Known as shinrin-yoku, the practice began in the 1980s, and studies later showed that woodland wanders could increase mental wellbeing and lower blood pressure.
Forest bathing is now making its way over to UK shores, bringing with it an opportunity to slow down, unwind and appreciate your surroundings, away from phones, tablets and our ‘always-on’ existence. Supporters include the Woodland Trust and RSPB, who are both encouraging schemes that allow people to reconnect with nature and recognise the importance of our wonderful woodland environments.
Landal Darwin Forest, Landal Sandybrook and Landal Kielder Waterside are perfectly placed for allowing fantastic forest bathing experiences, with lush woodland settings and tranquillity just a short walk away. If you are keen to explore the benefits for yourself, here are a few pointers for a perfect shinrin-yoku experience.
Forget the phone
You may be tempted to take photos and share your experience with your Instagram followers, but forest bathing is all about truly switching off and letting only the forest environment stimulate your senses. As such, you will need to keep your phone turned off and in your pocket to really feel the benefits.
Slow it down
Forest bathing is all about taking time out. As such, it’s important that you take your time with your walk and don’t rush it. Many practitioners stop and sit under the favourite tree, soaking in the quiet forest ambience and allowing the benefits to slowly take effect.
Plot your own path
Don’t look at your map or plot a path before you go; let your body find its own way through the forest and go with the flow. You’re not going from A to B, but immersing yourself in a wonderful woodland experience, so find your own path and follow your instinct – natural beauty and health benefits await!
Use your senses
Forest bathing is all about exposing your senses to the woodland setting, so try and focus on integrating all of them and not just focusing on the scenic beauty. Touch leaves and trees, listen to the sound of birdsong, enjoy the fresh scent of pine needles and much more. When all your senses are exposed and engaged, you will soon feel the spirit-lifting benefits of forest bathing.
Make your own rules
The most important rule of forest bathing is really that there are no rules! You need to find your own way to health and happiness, so enjoy your time in the woods however you want. Stay for an hour or more, travel as far as you need to, and find the perfect forest setting that will help you relax and unwind – the benefits are yours, so no one is better suited to find them.