Forest bathing – a part of social prescribing – is making its way into mainstream America and may be your next prescription to relax and rejuvenate from the stressful life of court reporting.
Japan is a leader of forest bathing, but research is ongoing around the world. Shinrin-yoku – literally “forest bath” – was developed in the 1980s in Japan and has been incorporated into the country’s health program and is a popular way to destress and connect with nature.
Although people have been taking walks in forests for centuries, scientific studies show that forest bathing can reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, and improve concentration and memory. A chemical released by trees and plants called phytoncides was found to boost the immune system. Phytoncides protect trees from bacteria, fungus, and insects and these compounds are used in aromatherapy and holistic healing. Phytoncides aside, there’s something about slowing down to appreciate nature that reminds us of our deep connection to the world.
To forest bathe, you need to savor the sights, smells, sounds and textures of the forest and let nature in. Even in an urban environment, forest bathing is possible by taking off your shoes and feeling the grass. Forest bathing can be as simple as spending time outdoors under a canopy of trees. You can start by leaving all electronic devices and other distractions behind – at the very least, turn them off and keep them tucked away. Then allow yourself to spontaneously explore your surroundings. Remember, forest bathing is not a hike. The purpose is not to get exercise – although I do believe you can accomplish both if you are being intentional. Pause and take in the birds singing, the warmth of the sun or the wetness of the rain, the fresh air and the feeling of it hitting your face; and see how long you can savor these experiences. To my surprise, there are a lot of trees in downtown Seattle. After 30 years of working in the city, I noticed them in a new light in my quest for a forest bath in an urban environment.
Forest bathing is a simple prescription for a busy and oftentimes overwhelming life that works by reducing stress. It is one of the easiest health hacks you can incorporate into your court reporting life. If you find that this therapy works for you, you can learn more from a certified guide.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FOREST BATHING THAT CAN LAST UP TO 7 DAYS:
Improved mood, concentration, and memory
Immune system boost, with help from phytoncides released from trees and plants
Reduction of high blood pressure
Acceleration of recovery from illness
Soothes the spirit and inspires feelings of awe
OPTIONS FOR FOREST BATHING
Expose yourself to green space. Even in the city you can find nature. I was surprised by the many trees in Downtown Seattle!
Put a houseplant on your desk and touch it
Take off your shoes and feel the grass
Open a window and listen for birds singing
Take a stroll, or sit in a park and listen and enjoy the environment
Please let me know if you find this suggestion for stress relief insightful. I would love to hear from you!