Island Senior: Forest Bathing, an Antidote to Stress

Posted July 16, 2019 at 7:45 am by

Judy McRae Enjoying a Forest Bath - Peggy Sue McRae photo

Island Senior is a reg­u­lar col­umn on the San Juan Update writ­ten by Peg­gy Sue McRae…

Most Islanders do not need to be remind­ed to appre­ci­ate the beau­ty of nature. It is why we live here. And yet, if you live here 24/7 you know that even our island par­adise is not immune to the stress­es of mod­ern life in these con­tentious times. Luck­i­ly for us it is not hard to find a patch of woods to enjoy what the Japan­ese call Shin­rin-yoku or For­est Bathing.

Refresh­ing ones spir­it in nature is of course noth­ing new. America’s great nat­u­ral­ist John Muir the father of our nation­al parks said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more that he seeks.” Yet, for­est bathing, as prac­ticed in Japan, began in the 1980s as a form of pre­ven­ta­tive health care to coun­ter­act the stress of an urban lifestyle.

For­est Bathing is not the same as a hike. There is no des­ti­na­tion and there is no hur­ry. Don’t take your phone or your cam­era. You can do it at a slow stroll and you can do it sit­ting on a log. The idea is to engage in the nat­ur­al world with all of your sens­es. Lis­ten to the sounds of the for­est, feel the moss, smell the duff, watch sun­light glint off shiny drops of tree sap. If you have been tak­ing yoga class­es (Tues­day morn­ings at the Mullis Cen­ter) try a few yoga stretch­es and some deep breath­ing. Breathe in organ­ic com­pounds called phy­ton­cides. These com­pounds pro­tect trees from par­a­sites and dis­ease and will do the same for you.

What is new about for­est bathing is the research. Accord­ing to for­est bathing guide, Moshe Sher­man, the analy­sis of 143 research stud­ies shows that there are many heal­ing ben­e­fits.  “One 20-minute ses­sion of for­est bathing led to an increase in a type of white blood cell called NK cells, or nat­ur­al killer cells — cells that pro­tect humans from virus­es and even from tumor for­ma­tions” Plus spend­ing time in the woods reduces blood pres­sure, boosts the immune sys­tem, reduces stress, improves mood, aids men­tal focus and improves sleep. Next time you feel stress creep­ing into your life try step­ping into the woods for a refresh­ing for­est bath.

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0