April 17, 2023

Forest Bathing


Any one that has followed me for a while knows that forest bathing keeps me sane.  It does not mean I am taking a bath there, but that I am soaking in the energy of the forest. I know it sounds a bit out there, but spending time in nature, and especially amongst the trees can really improve wellbeing. When ever I am feeling low, or in a bad place, I drive to the forest or the woods.  I come out feeling calmer and able to cope.

Forest bathing or ‘shinrin yoku’ became popular as a form of ecotherapy in Japan in the 1980s.  Many studies have been done which show that time spent immersed in nature improves our health.  For me it helps me to relax, reduces my stress and kind of resets and refreshes me.


Trees release chemicals into the air and essential oils called phytoncides.  Often you can smell them.  These protect trees from pests, disease, parasites and germs, but they are also good for us too as we inhale them.   There are also lots of negative ions in the forest air.  These are invisible but are full of electric charges. You find them near waterfalls too.  These counter the positive ions that are produced by things like pollution, pesticides, contaminated water and radiation and impact negatively on our health by causing things like asthma.  The negative ions produced by trees, on the other hand, improve our immune system and increase the amount of serotonin in our body which improves happiness and decreases feelings of anxiety and depression.

I always find it amazing that the trees in my favourite forest have been standing for hundreds of years and that my ancestors, with very different lives have walked along the same paths and touched the same trees.


As I have mentioned above, forest bathing can counter some of the pollution caused by modern day life.  Studies have also shown forest bathing to lower blood pressure, improve heart health, improve the immune system and decrease inflammation which can help with things like joint problems.  I always find that my old knees don’t hurt as much when I have been walking in the forest.  Forest bathing  has also being proved to reduce stress, and decreases feelings of anxiety and depression.  I find that it just calms me when I am angry, upset or frustrated.  I also come away feeling more focussed and with more energy.


You don’t have to be fit and healthy to do it, or be able to hike a long way. it is about using all your senses in the forest, without any distractions from phones  or people.  Nature is a great healer but most of us spend at least 90% of our time in doors nowadays and we have lost that connection to nature.  Just 20 minutes spent in nature every day can really improve our health.


You will find benefit any where there are trees.  This might be a city park, a back garden or a small wood or glade.


Unlike just going for a walk in the woods (that will still benefit you), forest bathing is a kind of mindful therapy.  I do it by taking myself to some woods where there are few people.  I then turn my phone off so that I am not distracted. I wander through the forest touching branches and breathing in the air until I find some where that feels right.  I know that sounds mad but I just follow my instinct and my body and find a place that feels peaceful.  I then try to block out all my worries, my responsibilities and stop thinking about anything to do with home or my life and be really mindful of the moment and where I am.

I either stand still or sit down and start to use all my senses. I notice the sounds that I hear if I close my eyes like the birds or the rustling of the leaves.  I open my eyes and notice the colours, the plants and insects around me.  I touch the bark, the stone I am sitting on or the grasses around me and feel the different textures, I then breath in deeply and taste the forest air and try to recognise the smells around me.  Every time I breathe in deeply I know that I am taking in the goodness and helping my body.  I then walk slowly being mindful of everything that is around me until I get back to my car.  I always feel so light but enriched and in a much better place. There are lots of other ecotherapy exercises that you can do when out in nature but forest bathing is a simple one that helps me and that I seem to get the best results from.


I prefer to be on my own as it is a bit like a meditation for me but you can go on guided forest bathing courses where people will facilitate you.  The guides will often have therapeutic training but the forest is the therapy as you connect with the nature around you, and so forest bathing is easy to do by yourself.  The main skills you need to master are to slow down and be mindful.

Do many of you forest bathe?  If you haven’t tried it why not give it a go?  Sometimes it is really hard to motivate myself to go if I am not in a good place, but I have never regretted it.




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  1. Eve May 6, 2023 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Toni you are a girl after my own heart. I adore trees, walking in woods and forests. They are my favourite places. I find them very spiritual and calming.
    One of my favourite places is Westernbirt arboretum. Unfortunately now their prices are high to enter. I have a small woodland walk near me that I love and grateful its within walking distance.

    • ToniG May 8, 2023 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      Sorry for the late reply. I am having issues with the internet and have come to my daughter’s to access the site. Yes woods and forests are magical aren’t they? I can go in feeling rubbish and down and come out feeling replenished. Aww that is a shame about your favourite place but I am glad that you have got somewhere local to walk. Thanks for commenting

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