Health and Well-being Series – Getting Back to Nature

Forest-trees

Over the last decade we have seen amazing technological advances and this has fuelled a growing trend of increased screen usage. Whether it be phones, laptops, games consoles, tablets or even TV’s, there have never been as many ways to become fully immersed in a digital world. With the busy lives we all lead it can be easy to forget our roots and the importance of nature for our well-being.

There is increasing evidence that going outside and enjoying nature is not only good for our physical health, but can do wonders for our mental health. Research conducted by the University of Derby and The Wildlife Trusts found that when we are outside it can have a positive impact on our mood, increase creativity, reduce anxiety, and even improve our attention capacity.

An increasingly popular way of getting back to nature is forest bathing! Carry on reading to find out more about forest bathing and how it could improve your health and well-being.

What is forest bathing?

Forest bathing, also known as shinrin-yoku, is as simple as taking a walk in the woods and taking the time to enjoy your surrounding environment. During a forest bathing session you use all of your senses to enjoy the forest’s beauty, listen to the sound of animals in the trees, the smell of the flowers and plants, take notice of how the sun looks through the canopy of trees and feel the bark of the trees on your skin.

There is no set time you have to spend in the forest, you can spend as long or as little as you like. The recommended amount of time is 2 hours however, a brief visit will still reap great benefits. Visit the National Trusts website to view some of their top tips on how to get the most from your forest bathing experience.

Who can forest bath?

Almost everyone! Forest bathing is great for all age groups and a great way to rewind and disconnect from modern technologies. You don’t have to be of a certain fitness level and you are free to explore the forest at your own speed, it is even recommended to slow down to enjoy the moment.

Benefits of forest bathing

There has been a large amount of scientific research into the physical and mental benefits of forest bathing. One of the most outstanding findings is that trees give off a chemical called phytoncides (particularly conifers) which can increase your body’s immunity for up to a month after visiting the forest. Some of the other health benefits can include:

  • Reduced cortisol levels
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Improved blood pressure
  • Improved immune system
  • Improved concentration and memory

Local Woods

If you or somebody you know are interested in forest bathing or even just taking a walk in the woods, there are several picturesque forests you could visit in Thanet. Both the Dane Valley Woods and Mocket Woods offer a tranquil experience and can help you to get closer to nature.

Other ways to get back to nature

If forest bathing isn’t for you, there are many other ways you can get back in touch with nature. Below we have listed a few of our favourite ways and some you can do in the comfort of your own garden:

  • Do some light gardening
  • Plant your own herbs and vegetables
  • Take a countryside or coastal walk
  • Relax in your back garden and enjoy the warmth of the sun on your skin or gaze at the stars
  • Do your morning yoga practice outside
  • Forage wild food (always check that it is safe and can be eaten)
  • Spend a night camping
  • Build a home for the wildlife in your garden
  • Draw or paint a natural scene

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