Are you looking to improve your health? Not just your physical health, but also your mental, emotional, and psychological health? Well, today, I’m going to tell you how you can get more healthy, in just a short while, simply by taking a bath. No, not that kind of bathing. See, the Japanese have this traditional practice called forest bathing. (Don’t worry if that sounds unusual—I just heard of it myself.)
A shinrin-yoku, or “forest bath,” is the practice of spending intentional time being absorbed in nature, particularly in a forested type of setting. This bathing involves taking in nature, immersing oneself in the sights, the sounds, the smells, the touch, (and the taste?) of the forest through our senses.
Forest bathing, according to some experts, is accomplished by leaving any and all technology at home or in the car. It is also recommended not to do activities that are over-stimulating or that take attention away from your experience of the nature that is around you. So, you should stick with taking a relaxing walk, doing meditation/prayer/yoga, just sitting or laying (hammock!), having a meal in the forest, casually bird-watching or doing plant observation, or even drawing some of the scenery around you.
Those are some cool suggestions, and I definitely recommend adapting them to your own interest and lifestyle. The most important takeaway from all of this bath-talk, though, is just to get outside and get into nature. An EPA study says that about 93% of Americans spend their time indoors. 93%! That’s 1.5 hours. But now that I think about it, even though I consider myself to be someone that gets outside a lot, I really don’t. I’m not only indoors for sleeping, eating, and working, but for much of my leisure time, which is often spent in the most anti-forest bathing way possible—in front of a screen!
I’m beginning to regret all of the complaining that I’ve been doing about the brutal heat and humidity this summer. I didn’t get outside and into nature as much as I had anticipated. This whole “forest bathing” concept has me looking even more eagerly toward some fun family (and solo) walks on our favorite local trails this fall!
If you’re anything like me (or most Americans) you probably stink. So go take a bath already.