Do you ever feel a need to get away from your daily life in the city and reconnect with nature? Studies have shown that taking some time to explore nature and the forests can have a lot of positive health benefits, which has led to the rise of forest therapy.
Forest therapy is a relatively new research-based method to support healing and wellness through immersion in the natural world. It has been referred to as “forest bathing” in other cultures, such as Japan, where it has become quite popular.
How Does Forest Therapy Work?
There is a near-limitless number of healing activities that can be incorporated with walking through a forest or other natural area. These activities are likely to be healing when they encourage listening, quiet, acceptance and use of all of our senses.
Health Benefits of Forest Therapy:
Studies show there are a wide variety of health benefits of forest therapy, including
- Less tension and stress on the cardiovascular and immune systems
- Stabilized and improved mood and cognition
- People who suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety and depression have seen especially good results from undergoing forest therapy
Basic Requirements for Forest Therapy:
- There must be a specific intention to connect with nature in a healing manner. People undergoing the therapy should move throughout nature in a way that opens the senses and encourages active communication with nature.
- Forest therapy must not be rushed. The goal is not to get exercise, but to remove oneself from his or her typical environment and connect with the natural world. While the walks are usually a mile or less, they can take anywhere from two to four hours to complete. The pace is quite leisurely.
- Healing interactions require a great deal of attention. Therapists encourage mindfulness through invitations to participants to slow down and open their senses.
- Forest therapy occurs at regular intervals—it is not a one-time event. It takes some time to develop a powerful, meaningful relationship with nature, and this relationship is enhanced by continually returning to the forest throughout the seasons. It is a practice, much like yoga or meditation.
- There are additional elements to forest therapy beyond just walking through the forest. Other practices include sit spot, place tending and cross-species communication.
Ultimately, science has proven time and time again that nature is good for the body and the soul. Taking the time to get back to the forest and reconnect with the natural world can provide a great deal of healing that one simply cannot find in medicine.
For more information about the growing field of forest therapy, contact us today at Soil Advocates.