23 Jun 2019

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The business networking I regularly invest in has been very enriching on a personal level. Over the last few weeks I've learned how to easily boost my Serotonin levels, how to beat cancer (in some cases), why I should always wear sunscreen, the potential joys of Nordic Walking, and, this week, the health and wellbeing benefits of 'forest bathing'.

Fear not, I'm not taking my kit off and going skinny-dipping in the woods (though I know some of you will thank me for putting that image in your mind!) 'Forest Bathing' is a fair translation of the Japanese phrase, "Shinrin-Yoku."

The concept is simplicity itself – to take a relaxed and gentle walk amongst trees, be 'present', and use as many senses as possible to 'be in the moment'.

Formalised in the 1980s in Japan, Shinrin-Yoku is now so popular in preventative healthcare that there are 44 designated forests in Japan, accredited for the practice.

Research continues and the quantifiable benefits recognised so far include a reduction in the release of cortisol (one of the key stress hormones), and a boosting of the immune system. Documented reductions include less stress, anger, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness.

15 minutes is sufficient to get a boost in clarity of focus to add to the benefits of reducing blood pressure.

Given that most of us could invest 15 minutes and find a park with a few trees, what can we do when we get there?

Firstly, this is about freedom of focus. This means the phone needs to go off – and, for me specifically, the camera needs to be put away. We want to be fully present without distraction. There is no other agenda other than to 'be'.

Secondly, be free from even positive expectations. Just be. Wander. Not all who wander are lost, though it would be great to get lost in the moment.

Thirdly, practice selective-attention. Notice the sunlight through the leaves. Follow the progress of a blackbird or a squirrel. In Autumn, notice the architecture of the fungi. Be aware of how the path feels. Sense the breeze. Feel the rain.

Fourthly, pause and perhaps sit. When I did this immediately after the presentation, I chose a spot yards from the road going through the New Forest. To my delight, I was watched by three elegant Fallow Deer before they decided to move on.

Fifthly, enjoy the (relative) silence. If you're with friends, take a vow to not talk until after a set period of time.

These steps are adapted from the article here:

I even hugged an oak tree (one that was the perfect size for me) and I liked it!

Kindly share your own experiences of pressing pause and 'bathing' in Nature.


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Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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