Forest Bathing: A nature bath like no other
When you hear the term "Forest Bathing," a few different images come to mind about what that might be if you have never heard of it before. I know I raised an eyebrow when I first heard of it, questioning if it was like some nudist practice. I was quick to learn that was not the case.
In the 1980s, a mental health practice in Japan called Shinrin Yoku was developed based on the similar foundations RecuperAcres was established for; as a way to decompress and preserve forest land. Forest Bathing also called Forest Walking, is a meditative practice of taking in the forest. Mindfully listening to the wind as it blows through the tree leaves, mixed with the chirps and sounds from forest birds and wildlife. Absorb the abundance of smells the forest has to offer, from the fresh pine to the damp ground. Touch the maze of bark that nature created on a tree. Observe and appreciate the colorful fungi and wildflowers the forest has on display.
As the practice started to become more popular, the National Institute of Health decided to do some research around in. In 2009, Effect of Forest Bathing Trips on Human Immune Function was published and the results were nothing short of incredible. They found Natural Killer Cells, which are our innate cancer and tumor fighting cells in our bodies increased and stress hormone production decreased, all believed due to exposure of Phytoncides that are released from trees.
Amazing how a walk in the woods is no longer just a walk in the woods.
However, even though we have this amazing research around the benefits of immersion in nature, we sure seem to spend a lot of time out of it. More than half our time. In fact it is estimated that 93% of our life is spent indoors, according to this Time Magazine article.
This means 7% of our life is spent outdoors, when the outdoors and nature used to be our primary habitat. That is scary, especially when statistics around isolating and caging behavior directly correlate to mental and physical health struggles that have been addressed as public health issues.
I decided to do my own research around this topic and researched more relative to my client pool for RecuperAcres. I surveyed the group of therapist and mental health professionals asking what percent of their clients do not get outside enough. All but one response indicated the majority of their clients do not get outside enough. A need has very much been identified.
My dream with RecuperAcres, is to help the therapeutic process become more applied or hands on. The therapist is bringing their client directly in the environment that will help them cope and decompress from whatever is ailing them in life. Once their client has found nature as a therapeutic resource, they can continue to use immersion in it for the mental, physical, and physiological health benefits.