The Japanese Tradition of “Forest-Bathing”
Developed in Japan during 1980’s, “Forest-bathing” or “Shinrin-Yoku” is a term which means “taking in the forest atmosphere”. The practice of Forest-bathing has become one of the keystones of healthcare and healing in Japanese medicines.
Forest Bathing basically means just being in the presence of trees. No jogging or trekking, just walking or picnicking in the forest full of trees. In ancient time, people used to spend a lot of time with the nature and used to live a healthy and happy life. Forest bathing is becoming really popular among people these days. Because of so much advancement in technology, stress and work pressure, people want to take a break from this digital world and going for Forest Bathing has become their favorite. Just an idea of being surrounded by trees is so refreshing and calming that people these days have started planning weekend getaways and one day trip to forests to get re-energize.
Researchers from Japan and South-Korea have been studying about the benefits one gets from being in the presence of trees. And, they have been successful in establishing a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time in the forest under the trees. This research is getting famous all over the world.
We all know how relaxing, calming and energetic we feel after spending some time with nature. Nature provides everything to humans for its survival; fresh-air, good health, essential oils, fruits, vegetables, raw materials, minerals, fossil fuels and much more. As Forest Bathing is all about surrounding oneself with the trees, it has a really good effect on the health of a person. Let’s take a look at the benefits of Forest Bathing:
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces stress and calms the mind
- Cures depression
- Improves mood
- Improves sleep
- Improves the immunity of the humans by increasing the count of NK (Natural killer) cells
- Faster recovery from sickness and diseases
- Promotes lower concentration of cortisol
- Increases focus and concentration, even in the children with ADHD
- Increases overall happiness
Trees not only cleanse the air but also emit essential oil, Phytoncide which is known to improve the functioning of the immune system. This oil is found in wood, plants and some fruits and vegetables which is released by trees to protect themselves from germs and insects. In a 2009 study by Qing Li, a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, measured the activity of NK (Natural Killer) cells in humans before and after visiting the forest and found that the subjects showed a significant increase in the activities of NK cells in the week after a visit to the forest. So, inhaling phytoncide actually improves the immunity and this gives another good reason to go for Forest Bathing.
It is known to every single person on this Earth that being close to nature gives inner peace and relaxes the mind. One must try to give a break from the daily routine and spend as much as possible time with the nature and trees and rejuvenate the body system. In countries like Japan, spending time under the cherry trees is the national past time and now people have started clubs even to take you for Forest Bathing. We all should learn from them and should protect and spend some time with the nature. Plant more trees and enjoy thy benefits.