It is common knowledge that spending time in nature has a positive impact on our physical health. However, the benefits of nature on our mental wellness are often overlooked. Forest therapy, also known as Shinrin-yoku, is a practice that originated in Japan and involves immersing oneself in nature to improve mental and physical health. In this article, we will explore the surprising benefits of spending time in nature for our mental wellness and how forest therapy can help improve our overall well-being.
What is Forest Therapy?
Forest therapy is a practice that involves spending time in nature to improve mental and physical health. It was developed in Japan in the 1980s and is now recognized as a form of preventative medicine. The concept of Shinrin-yoku is simple – to spend time in nature, be present and experience it through our senses. This can be done by taking a walk in a forest, sitting by a river or simply observing nature from a window. The goal is to connect with nature and allow it to work its magic on our body and mind.
The Benefits of Forest Therapy
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are two of the biggest contributors to mental health problems in our fast-paced, technology-driven world. Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress and anxiety. Studies have also shown that simply looking at a picture of nature can have a calming effect on the mind. Forest therapy takes this one step further by encouraging you to be present in nature and engage with it through your senses. This mindfulness approach can help to quiet the mind and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Improves Mood and Decreases Depression
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can have a positive impact on mood and reduce symptoms of depression. In one study, participants who took a 90-minute walk in a natural setting showed a decrease in symptoms of depression compared to those who walked in an urban environment. The act of being present in nature and engaging with it through our senses can help to shift our focus away from negative thoughts and improve overall mood.
Boosts Immune System
Forest therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on our immune system. Spending time in nature can increase the levels of natural killer cells in the body, which are responsible for fighting off infections and cancer. This boost in immunity can help to improve our overall health and reduce the risk of illness.
Increases Focus and Concentration
Technology and the demands of modern life can leave us feeling distracted and unable to focus. Spending time in nature has been shown to improve focus and concentration. This is thought to be due to the natural environment providing a calming and grounding influence, which can help to quiet the mind and reduce distractions.
Spending time in nature has been shown to promote creativity and problem-solving abilities. This is thought to be due to the peaceful and calming influence of nature, which can help to clear the mind and provide a fresh perspective.
How to Incorporate Forest Therapy into Your Life
Incorporating forest therapy into your life is simple and can be done in a variety of ways. Here are some tips to get started:
Take a walk in a natural setting
This can be a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment. Try to spend at least 30 minutes in nature, focusing on being present and engaging with the environment through your senses.
Take a moment to stop and be present in nature. Focus on your surroundings and pay attention to what you see, hear, smell, and feel. This can help to improve your connection with nature and reduce stress and anxiety.
Get involved in outdoor activities
Try activities such as hiking, camping, or gardening that allow you to spend time in nature and engage with it in a physical way.
Disconnect from technology
Spending time in nature is an opportunity to disconnect from technology and the distractions of modern life. Leave your phone and other devices behind and focus on being present in the moment.
Most psychotherapy specialist would agree that forest therapy has a number of surprising benefits for our mental wellness. Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and decrease depression, boost the immune system, increase focus and concentration, and promote creativity.
Incorporating forest therapy into your life is simple and can be done in a variety of ways, such as taking a walk in a natural setting, practicing mindfulness, getting involved in outdoor activities, and disconnecting from technology. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break and spend some time in nature – it may just be the mental boost you need.