In the 1980s Japan coined the term shinrin-yoku — ‘forest bathing’ — to describe the physiological & psychological exercise of consciously connecting with nature.
Of course this form of ecotherapy is nothing new, however these studies proved that immersion in nature with the stimulation of the five senses leads to a heightened state of awareness. Forest emersion activates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest mode), lowers cortisol, and increases a sense of wellness by releasing neurotransmitters oxytocin & endorphins.
What’s more, the combination of walking in exposure to sunlight induces bilateral brain stimulation: the pattern of moving one leg after the other activates the right and the left hemispheres of the brain. This bilateral stimulation helps the brain to process and neutralize trauma, and quite literally ‘move forward’ to process emotional situations that previously felt ‘stuck’. In turn, this bioenergetic activity provides clarity, insight and closure, and guides us towards a relaxed, integrated state of mind-body wellness.
Not only is nature an anecdote for tech-stress burn out, it is also a call home. An invitation to return to our natural environment. to remember that that we, humans, are nature. A reminder of mortality, fleeting moments in succession; the gift of being. That life on earth is abundant, full of wonder and opportunity.
Pro Tip: No accessible woods nearby? Enter into a meditation and deeply visualize the woods around you. Since the brain cannot differentiate between imagination and reality, if you concentrate on meandering through the woods, your brain will release the same neurochemicals and healing effects as if you were actually there! Nature sounds youtube playlist for sure helps. Happy forest bathing!