Have you ever heard of forest bathing?
Well, we first came across this concept several months ago. Yet when we think about it now, we may have been practicing forest bathing without identifying it as so.
With its origin in Japan, forest bathing or you can also call it Shrinkin Yoku, nature therapy or eco-therapy, simply means immersing oneself in nature. This self-care practice involves letting your senses guide you in your walk in the woods. And as you do this, pay attention to your physical and mental needs. What do you hope to achieve?
Some of the forest bathing activities can include jogging, reading, walking a dog, bike riding, walking barefoot (also known as grounding), skipping a rope, doing yoga, meditating, journaling, touching the trees and even doing nothing.
Just being surrounded by nature has many benefits. Plants and trees release phyntocides. When inhale the forest’s fresh air, we breathe in these chemicals which end up increasing a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells that prevent diseases and help speed up recovery of illnesses.
The smell of the forest and paying to attention to its surrounding reduces fatigue, blood pressure and production of the stress hormone, cortisol. It improves clarity, focus and sleep. Who wouldn’t want any of these?
Here are some of the places you can visit for a forest bathing experience.
The density of trees creates a calming effect. The good thing about forests such as Karura Forest is that it gives us a chance to explore different paths, spots and activities when visiting due to its expansiveness. Therefore if you decide to make this as part of your routine, and studies do show that regular forest bathing has a longer term effect.
Parks are quiet. You will only hear natural sounds like birds chirping or leaves rustling.
We are therefore excited that parks in Nairobi are being restored. Kenya Forest Service renovated Michuki Park which is going to be opened to the public soon while City Park is currently renovated.
Animal parks are ideal places too.
Definitely in our homes too.
You can invite the forest into your home by growing indoor plants. Hanging paintings or photos of trees on your walls can also create that same effect. You can watch videos about forests too.
Discover groves in your neighbourhood too. This makes the natural form of forest bathing more accessible. It can support your visits to the forest or parks.
Have you ever tried forest bathing? Where do you go? Do let us know in the comments below.