The Japanese term Shinrin-yoku translates as “forest bathing”. It refers to spending time in the woods for its therapeutic (or bathing) effect. Most of us have felt tension slip away in the midst of trees and nature’s beauty. But science now confirms its healing influence on the body. When you spend a few hours on a woodland hike or camping by a lake you breathe in phytoncides, active substances released by plants to protect them against insects and from rotting, which appear to lower blood pressure and stress and boost your immune system. Shinrin-yoku has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. And before you scoff at the term, ‘forest bathing’, remember that acupuncture is also a form of traditional Japanese medicine and I am sure we all know someone who has benefitted from it.
John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” Spending time in nature can improve your attention capacity and ability to focus, enhance creativity, increase cognitive ability, improve memory and reduce stress and elevate mood. I would like you all to consider spending more time in nature this coming year. It doesn’t need to be complicated or time consuming. It can last as little as 15mins or an entire day. But remember, the more time you spend in nature the greater the benefits will be. Green exercise is a great way to do this, from walking to work through the park, going for a run or spending part of your lunch break outside. It’s not hard and you will notice the benefits almost immediately.
I will leave you with this – A 2012 study concluded that children are engaged with electronic media on average 52 hours a week but typically spend less than 49 minutes outside.
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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