How often do you get out into nature to breathe the fresh air, walk amongst trees and actually take it all in? If you asked our ancestors, they would say 99.99 per cent of their time was spent living in the natural environment. In today’s urbanized world, that number is more reflective of how much time we spend using technology (it may be a bit of an exaggeration but you get my point). We now live in concrete jungles and often spend most of our days on our phones or computers and not in nature. That’s led to us living in an unhealthy “stressed state.”
So what’s one of the best ways to de-stress and relax? Forest bathing!
We made this video to give you a quick overview:
Forest bathing has nothing to do with water; simply put, it’s all about immersing oneself amongst the healing properties of trees and plants (and there’s scientific evidence to prove its benefits).
Originating from Japan, the Japanese government coined the term “Shinrin-yoku” in 1982, which means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” Linked to ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, forest bathing has become a foundation of preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
What are the benefits?
Japanese and Korean researches have conducted extensive research into the benefits of forest bathing. An array of physical and psychological benefits were revealed:
Reduces stress and promotes relaxation (within just 15 minutes!).
Trees emit oils as protection from germs and insects. The oils are called phytoncides and they help strengthen our immune system.
Improves blood glucose levels for non-insulin-dependent diabetics.
What does “taking in the forest atmosphere” actually mean?
Forest bathing is not about exercising, nor getting out into nature – it’s about being in the moment and taking in your surroundings. The meditative-like practice involves interacting with all five senses. It’s about consciously elevating your awareness to notice how fragrant the air is, to observe snow falling off tree branches, to notice animal trails in the snow… Simply hiking in nature doesn’t mean you’re forest bathing; it’s about noticing things you wouldn’t normally notice.
Forest bathing in Lake Louise could mean having an Olympic sized swimming pool of nature to yourself. It’s so easy to venture off the beaten path and find yourself alone and less prone to the distractions of others on the trail. This makes it an ideal location for forest bathing.
At the elevation of the Chateau, one can admire the dominant species of tree; Subalpine Fir and Angelman Spruce. If you were to venture to higher elevations, you would find the larch tree that turns gold in fall and the endangered Whitebark Pine. Lower elevations are home to Lodgepole Pine, Aspen and Douglas Fir.
No forest nearby? Being in urban green spaces or even keeping plants in your home will help you to achieve positive health impacts.