What is Forest Bathing?
In a tours deal article, we came across the word ‘forest bathing’ as a tour activity organised by a tour operator here in Nigeria. Forest Bathing is a natural therapy developed in Japan in the 1980s; they also call it Shinrin Yoku. The term is being one with nature probably came from this experience. Shinrin Yoku is simply spending time with nature or taking in the forest atmosphere. The idea is to spend more time in nature deliberately to partake in its amazing health benefits.
In Africa, we did not need to go into nature specifically because we were surrounded by nature. We had activities that revolve around the use of forests; an example would be the term, ‘evil forest’ and all. Interfacing with nature was part of our lifestyle. But with urbanisation and the demand for landed properties, most of our forests face deforestation. So now we need to be deliberate about the use and protection of our forests.
Thanks to tour operators, tourism activities and organisations, we have forest reserves and reasons to intermingle with the surrounding forests e.g. hiking through Sungbo’s Eredo forest, camping out in Nwgo Pine forest or visiting a National Park or other landmarks near forest regions.
Why do it?
There are many reasons why we should engage in forest bathing more often. Such as
1. It Improves mental health.
It helps us think clearly and creatively. Forest bathing is a mindfulness exercise that allows you to sharpen your sensory perception. To immense yourself in nature, you need to touch objects in nature, breathe in scents, listen to the sounds of the rustling leaves, forest creatures and the rushing waters of the streams/ponds nearby. Think deeply of how you fit into that space and process the details your brain analyses from your senses. Without any technology to disturb you, you can clear your mind and think deeply about issues.
2. It Is Physically Relaxing.
Forest Bathing has therapeutic benefits. When you immense yourself into a natural environment, it has a calming effect that makes you relax if being in nature is your thing. The scents of the forest may trigger a memory that if pleasant can be a good thing releasing feel good hormones into your system. Also, slowing down or having a change of pace from your daily routine, helps your body to rejuvenate and strengthen its healing or restorative properties. Making it easy for your body to heal itself better. Forest Bathing also increases your mood, focus and energy.
3. It Has Great Health Benefits.
Some trees release oils into the air called phytoncide which boosts your immune system by increasing the production of NK cells that fights cancer. It also helps to improve sleep. Forest bathing also helps to improve sleep, reduce stress levels (decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone) which helps to relieve blood pressure, heart and skin conditions, and asthma.
Forest bathing is a worldwide preventive health trend that has come to stay and it is a delight to see Nigerians embracing it.
Featured image source: Come To Nigeria