Guest Author: Kimberly Johnson
Forest bathing is a great way to reduce stress and connect with nature at the same time. The technique is based in Japanese culture and includes taking time to sit next to a tree while breathing deeply and focusing on all of one’s senses. Forest bathing will help you develop a mental space for effortless relaxation, awareness, and possibly lower your blood pressure.
The health benefits of forest bathing are said to be due to an airborne chemical called phytoncide. Phytoncides are aromatic, airborne chemicals with antimicrobial properties which are emitted from plants to protect them from insects and fight against disease. When we breathe these in, we benefit in the following ways:
- Boosting of the immune system
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving mood
- Improving sleep
It is important to acknowledge your five senses as an aspect of forest bathing because doing so helps to improve your intuition, your ability to tap into an inner perception of truth.
Use your five senses during forest bathing
- See the trees and notice the plants that grow around you. There may be shades of blue, green, brown, white, pink and purple that you have not noticed before.
- Hear the running water and the animals around you. There may be different bird sounds that you notice such as a dove versus a crow.
- Feel the strength of tree trunks. Feel the breeze and the sun against your skin. How does your body feel? Do your arms and legs feel heavy? Do you feel a heaviness on your chest?
- Smell flowers or the fresh air. Notice the smell of grass, flowers, pine, or salt from the river.
- Taste the air and plant leaves (be sure to properly identify the plant before tasting).
How to be fully present during the experience of forest bathing:
- Leave your phone and camera behind so that you won’t be distracted. Truly enjoy the color, shape, and texture of the plants and trees that surround you.
- Walk in silence in order to fully enjoy the experience.
- Listen to the birds sing or watch the fish play in the water while sitting by the riverbank.
- Feel the breeze on your skin and the leaves under your feet.
- Take time to smell the flowers or the fresh air.
Nature provides us with health benefits from herbal plants which can be used to help improve health conditions to Vitamin D provided by the sun. Allow nature to be a natural stress remedy for you as well through forest bathing! A Beginner’s Guide to Wellness is a great guide to finding out which wellness practices work best for you. You can also schedule a wellness consultation with a professional herbalist today.
Ms. Kimberly Johnson is working towards a Master’s Degree in Therapeutic Herbalism with a focus in Product Design at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Her background is in nursing where she has obtained an Associate Degree and a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Currently, Kimberly is a Professional Intern with The Dancing Herbalist.