May is here and with it comes days of sun and warmer temperatures that we craved all winter. People spend their lives increasingly indoors with Americans spending 90% of their time indoors even before we had quarantining and remote working. After the 14 months of dealing with all that came from being part of a world-wide pandemic, it is time to step into letting nature help us rebalance and heal. Being outdoors is not only good for the soul, but also is considered a preventative treatment for health and well-being.
Nature bathing is also called forest bathing. Forest bathing is a chance to take time out, slow down and connect with nature. This practice has been endorsed as a way of regaining balance and escaping the pressures of everyday life. The idea of nature baths comes from a Japanese concept called shinrin-yoku, which means “forest bathing” or relaxing in a “forest atmosphere”. It is about “bathing” in the energy and clean air of the woods. All of this is done in a meditative way, relaxing and reflecting as you take in the beauty of your surroundings. (MercyHealth, 2018)
To practice shinrin-yoku, focus on becoming mindful of the forest or environment. To set this up, leave your technology (phones and cameras) in the car so you can truly be without distraction and stay in the moment. Your focus will be solely on your experience, here and now. To do this, slow your walking pace as you stroll and use all your senses to become aware of your present moment. Smell the clean air and the flowers. Touch the rocks and really notice the textures. Listen to the layers of sounds from the rustling leaves to the birds chirping. Be aware of your breath as you stroll. Take in the visuals by noticing all the green in the environment, or each specific flower, or the different kinds of trees. Label things in your environment, notice the shape of each tree. Take time to sit down and immerse yourself in nature. If you are with others, take some time for silence during this nature bath. Be with the forest. Be with nature. Put it on like a salve and bask in it. Let the nature’s energy clear your aura and bring you to your center. Take your shoes off and let your feet touch the ground. Feel the forest deep within your soul and allow nature to center and revive you.
Taking a nature bath in the woods may bring you inner peace and many other benefits such as boost your immune system, improve your mood, give you more energy, decrease blood pressure, lower your stress and anxiety levels, lower cortisol levels, improve concentration and memory and improve sleep. (MercyHealth, 2018) (Sherwood, 2019) In fact, “forest therapy” comes from Asia and is integrated with national healthcare practices and recognized as a stress reduction method and a way to combat chronic illness. (Almekinder, 2019)
If you can’t make it out into nature but would like to give yourself a healthy dose of nature in your own yard, take your shoes off and put your feet on the dirt, grass, or sand. Let yourself have a moment or two of grounding, also called earthing. See previous article https://wholenesshealing.com/wholeness-healing-today/bare-thosefeet-touch-the-ground/. Check it out for the simple backyard versus bringing the benefits of nature into your life every day. Whatever direction you decide to go, do something that allows nature to help you rebalance, reenergize, and rejuvenate. Let us get back to our best selves.
Almekinder, E. R. (2019, June). https://www.bluezones.com/2019/06/forest-or-naturebathing-ancient-practices-modern-uses-andthe-science-of-relaxation/. Retrieved from Bluezones. come:https://www.bluezones.com/
MercyHealth. (2018, June 20). https://blog. mercy.com/nature-baths-benefits/. Retrieved from blog.mercy.com: https://blog.mercy.com/Sherwood, H. (2019, Jun 8). Getting back to natures: how forest bathing can make us feel better. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/: https://www.
Sherwood, H. (2019, Jun 8). Getting back to natures: how forest bathing can make us feel better. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/: https://www.theguardian.com/Tags: being in nature, grounding, natural and healing, Nature baths, touching the ground
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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