Struggling with Stress? Forest Bathing Might Be a Solution For You

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Picture this: You’re faced with a choice – sitting at your desk or strolling through a serene forest, surrounded by nature’s wonders. For many, the latter option sounds far more appealing. And it’s not just about escaping screens – it’s about embracing the healing embrace of nature. Enter forest bathing, a practice gaining traction for its profound psychological benefits. But what exactly is it, and does it live up to the hype? Let’s delve into the research to uncover the truth.

Originating in Japan as shinrin-yoku, forest bathing is more than just a leisurely walk in the woods – it’s a therapeutic experience that engages all the senses. This practice, also known as forest therapy or forest medicine, has garnered attention worldwide for its potential to alleviate stress and improve overall well-being. But what does the science say?

A recent Italian study conducted an umbrella review of 16 systematic reviews, examining the effects of forest bathing on various health outcomes. While the quality of evidence varied, the consensus suggests that forest therapy offers notable psychological benefits. From mood enhancement to stress reduction, the evidence points towards a positive impact on mental health.

However, it’s essential to interpret these findings cautiously, considering the limitations of the individual studies. Despite some shortcomings, the overarching conclusion is clear: spending time in nature, even for as little as 10 to 30 minutes, can have significant benefits for emotional balance and relaxation.

Considering forest bathing? Here’s what to remember before you go:

  • Engage Your Senses: Embrace the full sensory experience of forest bathing – from the sight of towering trees to the soothing sounds of nature. Let the fragrance of the forest air and the feel of the earth beneath your feet immerse you in its therapeutic embrace.
  • Disconnect to Reconnect: Resist the temptation to document every moment with your phone. By unplugging from technology, you can fully immerse yourself in the natural world and reap the benefits of uninterrupted tranquillity.
  • Prioritise Mental Well-being: In times of stress, prioritise spending time in nature as a form of self-care. The restorative effects of forest bathing may surpass those of conventional workouts, offering a holistic approach to well-being.
  • Combine Exercise with Nature: Harness the evolutionary benefits of exercising in natural environments. By engaging both body and mind, outdoor workouts offer a unique opportunity to enhance cognitive function and overall fitness.

As the allure of forest bathing continues to captivate nature enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals alike, it’s essential to recognise its potential as a therapeutic tool for modern living. While more research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms, the evidence thus far suggests that immersing oneself in the natural world can be a powerful antidote to the stresses of modern life. So, the next time you’re seeking solace from the chaos, consider taking a stroll through the forest – your mind and body will thank you for it.


Antonelli M, Donelli D, Carlone L, Maggini V, Firenzuoli F, Bedeschi E. Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on individual well-being: an umbrella review. Int J Environ Health Res. 2021 Apr 28;1–26.

Raichlen DA, Alexander GE. Adaptive Capacity: An Evolutionary Neuroscience Model Linking Exercise, Cognition, and Brain Health. Trends Neurosci. 2017 Jul;40(7):408–21.

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