By Lyne Desforges
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku, which translates literally to “forest bath”. So what exactly is forest bathing? Quite simply, it is being immersed in nature and connecting with it through all five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. By engaging with your surroundings, you get closer to the natural world that surrounds you.
According to the United Nations1, 54% of the world’s population lived in urban areas in 2014 compared to 30% in 1950. That number is predicted to climb to 66% by 2050. In Canada, the numbers are even higher: in 2017 82.18 percent of the total population2 lived in cities. Since the Iroquoian section of the Bruce Trail runs predominantly through urban areas, we play an even more important role in connecting people with nature.
According to a 2014 study3, regular forest bathing showed great benefits: lower heart rate, increased energy, decrease in symptoms of depression, fatigue, anxiety and confusion. Participants also mentioned feeling more calm and relaxed.
So next time you are in the forest, take a moment to sit down and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds of birds; smell the earth and flowers; feel the soft soil and warm air around you. Open you eyes and delight in nature’s colourful canvas. Take a moment to be thankful for forests and green spaces that feed your soul.
For more information, check out Dr. Qing Li’s book Forest Bathing: How Tress Can Help You Find Health and Happiness4 or M. Amos Clifford’s book Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature5.