Is going outdoors medicinally beneficial? Viewing nature in this way is still a foreign concept. To most people, feeling good isn't a good enough reason to spend time outside.
And with our increasingly busy lives, going outdoors needs to be classified as mandatory (by scientific evidence) as brushing our teeth to encourage us to do it.
We need to get outside.
On average, we spend more than half of each day indoors, glued to a screen. How alarming! If it isn't your computer or tablet, it's your phone or TV. This cannot be good for our physical and mental health.
Reconnecting with nature
In his 2008 bestseller, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv comments that all of us, especially children, are spending more time indoors. This lifestyle makes us feel alienated from nature, and we become more vulnerable to negative moods and reduced attention span.
Has science finally found a way to explain why being in nature feels so good?
Being outdoors for a picnic in the park, strolling down the beach, or taking a nature walk make us feel good in a way screen time never does.
In the 1980s, Japanese doctors set out to explain the science behind it. It's now scientifically proven to be an intense form of therapy, and Japanese doctors are prescribing it as a type of preventative health care.
What is forest bathing?
Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku) translates as "taking in the forest atmosphere". Mr. Tomohide Akiyama came up with this term in 1982. However, it is different than going on a hike or having a picnic in the park.
THE CALMING EFFECT OF NATURE
Bathing is not applied in the literal sense of immersing yourself in water. Rather, it is a feeling of allowing the forest to envelop your senses the way water does to our bodies when bathing.
Being surrounded by nature is a type of meditation that leaves you feeling more relaxed. Unlike the common types of meditation, forest bathing is easy for all ages and needs little training.
How to master forest bathing
Practice deliberately engaging with nature using all your five senses until you get used to it.
Look keenly at the trees, watch the leaves sway, or the way the sun rays stream through the branches.
Kneel on the ground, touch the soil and grass, and feel the texture of the tree barks.
Take as deep a breath as you can. Try to identify the aromas in the air as you might with a glass of fine wine.
Listen to the sounds around you- the animals, the wind, and the birds. You'll be surprised at how much you notice.
Taste the air as you breathe in through your mouth. Revel in its flavor.
Slowly rotate and take in all that's in your surroundings.
THIS IS FOREST BATHING.
We often forget that nature is not something separate from us, but we are nature. When we say that we have lost our connection to nature, in reality, we've lost our connection to ourselves.
Japanese studies have scientifically found proof that this practice is a health necessity. Read on to find out more.
6 forest bathing benefits
1. INCREASED MENTAL CLARITY
When we're in nature, our mind experiences "soft fascination," which allows the brain to rest. When we return to serious tasks, we're able to function with focused attention later.
2. STRESS REDUCTION
Being surrounded by nature lowers our cortisol levels. This hormone directly affects blood pressure, thus decreasing anxiety and stress.
3. NATURAL PAIN KILLER
A scientific study of hospital patients found that a room with a view to outside nature or the presence of flowering plants inside a hospital room can reduce the need for painkillers.
4. INCREASED IMMUNITY
The activity of our immune cells increases when we're outside in nature. These cells boost your body's ability to fight infection and improve overall immune function.
5. CREATIVITY BOOSTER
Spending time in nature enhances our creativity and mental performance by up to 50 percent.
6. RELAXED STATE OF BEING
Phytoncides (particles found in high concentrations in forest air) influence human relaxation. These substances significantly lower the level of noradrenaline and adrenaline in urine, which decreases stress hormone levels.
Also, forest bathing alters blood flow in the brain in a manner that indicates a state of relaxation.
With all this clear proof of the mental and physiological benefits of this therapy, do you need more convincing to spend more time in nature?
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team