Health Hack + Self Care: Forest Bathing
Real Talk: This last year has been HARD. If you're feeling like you need a breather, you're not alone. We do love that this year’s landscape has brought about a focus on self-care and wellness like never before. Many of us have learned that “time off” does not equal self-care, and that it is something we need to make an effort on. Sometimes, simply resting is what we need, but from yoga to deep breathing phone applications, many of us are seeking activities that will help to mitigate the stress of life and help us recharge. One trend that is quickly gaining ground is the Japanese activity “Shinrin Yoku” or “Forest Bathing”.
Forest bathing is a form of nature therapy that subscribes to the idea that simply being in a forest, away from the hustle and bustle of life, can be calming and restorative. The thing is, it’s not just an idea; it’s scientific fact! Have you noticed there's a shift when you step into a forest? The air is cooler, our breaths feel deeper, and you may even experience that strange sense of connection & belonging. There’s a reason for that, and you’re not imagining it.
Trees of course emit Oxygen and reduce levels of CO2, but they also act as a barrier to other urban air pollutants. This barrier also protects from climate extremes and forests actually create their own microclimates. That is why forest are often cooler and we get that feeling of finally being able to breathe deeply! Spending time outdoors also boosts Vitamin D which supports healthy immune function and helps regulate our mood, cutting down on feelings of anxiety and depression
Numerous studies have shown that simply being in the presence of trees reduces blood pressure, feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, and stress-related hormones (like cortisol and adrenaline). Those are all great on their own, but lessened stress allows our immune system to function at a higher level, furthering the benefits of simply spending time among the trees. Trees and other plants also give off phytoncides, which have antibacterial and antifungal qualities, which may also help boost our own immune systems.
For the same reason that hiking is seen by some as calming, forest bathing aims to reconnect you with nature and yourself. The difference between hiking and forest bathing is that forest bathing is not exercise; it’s just about getting out into the forest and existing, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a natural, calm environment. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend, on average, over 90% of their lives indoors, and that was before the pandemic and various stay-at-home orders.
Perhaps a positive aspect of quarantine is that most have found a higher level of appreciation for time outdoors and have made more of an effort to seek it out. Doing so also helps us connect with ourselves. Directed Attention Fatigue is a phenomenon that occurs when we spread ourselves too thin and we become mentally drained. Spending time in nature gives us a cognitive break and allows us to refocus and recenter ourselves.
Forest bathing can be a remedy for too much time inside and it comes with its own range of health benefits. Our challenge to you is to try it! Seek out a (safe) calm spot in nature, preferably among old growth trees, and spend some time there without your phone out. Sure, take a picture to remind you of those feelings later, but while you’re there, allow yourself to be in the moment and see what a difference it can make in your overall mood. Take it to the next level and take off your shoes for a bit!
Of course no health supplement can imitate all the benefits of spending time in a forest, but for those of us that may not have one accessible every day, there are a few options to help boost our immune system and regulate our mood and stress response. Our Organic Red Reishi Powder is an adaptogen that supports the immune system’s ability to combat stress and improve our energy and focus. Need more help in the relaxation department? Our Zen Tonic Broad Spectrum Hemp Oil can help lower our stress response and chill out.
Just for reading this article, get 30% off your purchase of Red Reishi or Zen Tonic with code: FOREST
*Coupon valid now through 12/31/2021. Not valid on sale items or in combination with other coupons. Coupon may be used once per person, limit 3 units.