College of DuPage Nursing Student Victoria Wilk feel that you probably don’t think about going into the forest when you think about bathing, but there are some reasons why you should start thinking about trees when you think about bathing. The Japanese began a practice called forest bathing. The best way to think about it is like sunbathing but in a forest instead of on a beach.
In an article by Karin Evans (2018), she reports that spending time in a forest, or at least in an area that has several trees such as a park if you live in an urban area, has a number of benefits. Forest bathing can strengthen your immune system, improve cardiovascular and metabolic health. It can also reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and anger. Spending time forest bathing may also help with sleep problems because of the reduction in anxious feelings.
How does forest bathing help? The oxygen levels in forests are higher than in urban areas since trees produce oxygen. Phytoncides, oils that are part of flora’s defense mechanisms against insects, fungi, and bacteria, are also present and benefit people’s health. Evergreens produce the most phytoncides, so they are the best forests to bathe in.
How do you forest bathe? You can walk slowly or you can just find a spot to sit, no running or power walking. The idea is to be more present in the moment. Take in the environment with all your senses. Smell the earth and the trees, listen to the birds, frogs, the sound of the trees swaying in the breeze or just appreciate the silence. Look at the variety and colors in the forest.
Research says you will begin to see some benefits after only twenty minutes but for the full effect four hours is ideal.