Forest bathing in Jacques Cartier National Park
Until 2019, I had never heard of forest bathing. Apparently it is a decades old idea invented by the Japanese. Canada picked up on it. If there is one thing they have enough of here, it’s forest.
Forest bathing is an increasingly popular practice that seems to have a variety of health benefits. We will explore what forest bathing is, how it works, and its benefits.
Then, we will look at how it can help with stress reduction, improve immunity, improve concentration and cognitive functioning, and even reduce inflammation. We will also discuss how to get the most from your forest bathing experience. Namely, which trees give off the most phytoncides and which plants are best for forest bathing.
What is forest bathing?
Go into the forest, without a specific destination. When you find a nice spot, stay there and practice mindfulness. Be aware of all the sounds and smells around you. Use your senses. It’s like a meditation exercise.
This summer I’ve hiked through the woods of Canada and seen animals here and there. Hiking is about exercising in nature. Sometimes it is about amazing view points you can only reach on foot. But this week, thanks to Sabrina, I took the time to hike slowly. To take it all in, to pay attention. And during one hike, the shortest I’ve done all year, we experienced more than in all other hikes combined.
Research suggests that spending time in nature helps against anxiety and depression. I don’t doubt it. Meditation is good for all kinds of things. Personally, I like a clear mind, free of distractions. Forest bathing helps with that.
Benefits of Forest Bathing
The benefits of forest bathing are numerous. Some of the most commonly reported benefits include
- improved mood,
- reduced stress and anxiety,
- increased energy and focus,
- improved immunity, and
- reduced blood pressure.
Studies have also found that forest bathing can improve concentration and cognitive functioning, as well as reduce inflammation and improve overall wellbeing. Additionally, forest bathing can lead to a deeper connection to nature and a feeling of peace and tranquility.
Which trees are best for forest bathing?
The best trees for forest bathing are pine, cedar, cypress, juniper, fir, spruce, larch, and oak. These trees are known to give off the highest levels of phytoncides, which are volatile organic compounds that are known to have health-boosting benefits.
Which trees give off the most phytoncides?
Pine, cedar, cypress, juniper, fir, spruce, larch, and oak trees are some of the most common trees that give off phytoncides.
Which plants give off phytoncides?
Phytoncides are volatile organic compounds that are released by certain plants, fungi, and some bacteria. Some of the most common plants that give off phytoncides include pine, cedar, cypress, juniper, fir, spruce, larch, and oak trees. Other plants such as eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary also release phytoncides, as do certain types of mushrooms.
Are phytoncides good for you?
Yes, phytoncides are generally beneficial for human health. Studies have shown that exposure to phytoncides can reduce stress, improve immunity, and even help to improve cognitive functioning. Additionally, phytoncides seem to help to reduce inflammation and increase the production of white blood cells, which are important for fighting off disease.
What we experienced in Jacques Cartier National Park
There were toads hopping across the path. Squirrels and chipmunks chasing up and down trees. Woodpeckers at work on a colorful maple tree. We saw a beaver dam in a little creek. We sat on a bench to listen to the babbling brook. The sun was shining through the forest and lit up the yellow and orange colors. Every breeze meant more leaves falling to the ground in their downward dance.
Create Forest Bathing Ritual
How do I start forest bathing?
Forest bathing, similar to Shinrin-yoku, is a practice that involves taking time to be mindful and appreciate nature. To start forest bathing, find a quiet, peaceful spot in nature and take your time to slow down, observe, and appreciate the beauty of the environment around you.
As you walk, take deep breaths and use your senses to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest. Let your thoughts pass and focus on being present in the moment. Spend as much time as you need to connect with the environment and feel the calming effects of the forest.
What is the difference between Shinrin-Yoku and forest bathing?
Shinrin-yoku and forest bathing both involve taking time to slow down and appreciate nature, but there is an important distinction between the two. Shinrin-yoku is a form of nature therapy that specifically involves taking time to be mindful and appreciate the environment around you by taking deep breaths, using your senses to observe the environment, and focusing on being present in the moment.
Forest bathing, on the other hand, is more of a general term to describe a leisurely stroll in the woods or a nature walk, and doesn’t necessarily involve the same level of mindfulness and introspection as Shinrin-yoku.
How long should you forest bathe?
The length of time you should spend forest bathing will depend on your individual needs. Generally, it is recommended to spend between 30 minutes and 2 hours forest bathing in order to reap the full benefits of this practice. However, if you are short on time, even 10 minutes of forest bathing can still have a positive effect on your mental and physical health.
How long do the effects of forest bathing last?
The effects of forest bathing can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Generally, the more time you spend forest bathing, the longer the effects will last. Studies have shown that people who spend time in nature can experience reduced stress levels and improved moods, as well as improved immunity and cognitive functioning, for up to a week after their nature experience.
Anyway, before you dismiss it as new-age bs, just try it 🙂 be aware of your surroundings and take it all in. If you don’t have a forest handy, I bet it also works on a beach or in a swamp. And once you have, please comment below – I would love to learn how you felt!