“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”
Last time you visited your doctor, you were most likely asked to fill out a “PHQ-9” This is a widely used scale used by healthcare professionals to determine if you have depression and if so, how severe it is. A certain score will lead to a conversation with your doctor about treatment options, i.e., medication. If you are one of the thousands of Americans who have already had this conversation and started a prescription, you are definitely not alone. In the United States,use of psychotropic meds has absolutely skyrocketed in recent years, and there is no end in sight when considering the amount of stress everyone seems to be under. But what if your doctor told you there was another way to feel better? What if they prescribed… nature?
Sound wild? Not if your doctor is in Japan. “Shinrin-Yoku” is a widely accepted practice to counteract symptoms of depression and anxiety. Translated into “Forest Bathing”, Shinrin-Yoku utilizes all of your senses to reset your connection to the natural world around you. For many, it’s the medicine which rids them of the everyday stress surrounding them.
Think of Forest Bathing as another tool to add to your mindfulness toolbox. It’s something you can practice in your own backyard as part of a morning meditation, as a way to pause a weekend bike ride, or something to practice whenever you find yourself outdoors; no forest necessary. Whenever, wherever you practice, keep these tips in mind so you may get the most out of your Forest Bath.
- Choose a place that is private. You want to avoid interruptions, so choose a place that you won’t be disturbed for at least 20 minutes.
- Get comfortable. While sitting on the ground or on a rock sounds like the best way to feel nature, you may find the discomfort distracting. Consider bringing along a camp chair so you can sit comfortably.
- As you sit in your choice of spot, focus on all five of your senses, one at a time. If you find yourself getting distracted with intrusive thoughts or feelings, bring your focus back to your breath. Pay special attention to the way the fresh air feels as you inhale and exhale.
- Bring yourself a treat. A warm cup of coffee, infused water, or light snack offers the perfect chance to experience your sense of taste during your forest bath, while also keeping you comfortably hydrated.
What is your Forest Bathing experience? Comment below to share.