The Japanese have a word for it shinrin-yoku, literally “forest bathing”. It simply means immersing yourself in natural woodland.
It’s not exercise, you don’t have to spend hours doing it, here’s the amazing thing even 15 minutes of walking in nature can have a measurable impact on stress levels.
European studies have shown that those living closer to green spaces report lower levels of mental distress, and lower incidences of disease. A Canadian study found those people living on blocks with more trees had a boost in heart and metabolic health equivalent to a $20,000 increase in income!
In one Japanese study middle aged men were sent either to an urban setting or woodland for an 80 minute walk Those going to the forest experienced significant decreases in pulse rate, and on measured scales increased vigour, and decreased depression, fatigue and anxiety.
Another Japanese study along similar lines but with a 15 minute walk in an urban or forested area showed that the woodland walkers experienced a 16% drop in stress hormone cortisol, 2 percent drop in blood pressure and a 4 percent drop in heart rate.
This morning Claire and I took a walk deep into the woodland of Hampstead Heath and we’ve vowed to make it a more regular activity because of the relaxation, mood lift and energy boost we felt.
We mustn’t forget, we have a deep, deep connection with nature, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that.
Unplug, immerse, relax.
What’s your outdoor relaxation tip?