Make Forest Bathing a Walk in the Park

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When was the last time you laid down on a patch of grass? Not on a lounge chair or even a blanket. But directly onto the earth, relaxing as the sun bathes over you and breathing deeply with the breeze.

Ok, if that seems like a weird thing to do, how about simply going for a walk through nature? A place that is dense with trees and grasses and wildlife. A stroll without phones or music or any other modern distractions. Just pure connection with the nature around you. 

We all know that going outside is good for us and when we finally take the time to do it, it's so refreshing. But oftentimes we dismiss the profound benefits of daily intentional time connecting with the natural world. 

If you think that sounds boring, don't worry, the Japanese have turned it into a hip new thing that is now sweeping the nation, and it's called Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku

Forest Bathing is the simple act of spending time in a forest for therapeutic purposes. If you need some more guidance, the official website kindly gives instructions: 

Go to a Forest. Walk slowly. Breathe.
Open all your senses.
This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, 
the medicine of simply being in the forest.


How wonderful is that? Some of you may think, duh, but in a lot of parts of the world, and in our own daily grind, we've made getting outside a lot more difficult than we want to admit. 

But the Japanese were smart enough, since we keep paving paradise to put up parking lots and the like, to turn it into a thing to give us more of a tangible reason and motivation to get outside. Way to go, Japan. 

There has been a lot of research done on the healing benefits of simply connecting with nature, and you can read about that HERE if you fancy, but I would bet that you've felt the benefits for yourself. You don't need research study stats to prove it to you. 

Living in the Upper Midwest, pleasant outside time weather has become a bit of a luxury, but I've learned to toughen up and get creative. Please enjoy 3 tips I've used to keep kicking me out the door:

1. Bundle up. I believe that there's no bad weather, just bad gear, so you can get outside and have a decent time if you really want to. Don't be afraid of a little rain or snow or wind. You are tougher than that. 

2. Incorporate it into your everyday life. Park far away in the parking lot. Bike or walk to work if you can. Do yard work yourself. Drive with the windows down. Get a pet that requires outside time. Trade in your end of day T.V. show for a sway in a hammock with a good book or podcast. 

3. Walk dates instead of coffee dates. I've done this a few times and each time has been so delightful. You can still get a beverage, but take it outside. Walk around the city or meet at a park. You'd be surprised at how much more enjoyable, productive, and refreshing it is. 

The key really is to make it a priority instead of a luxury. Embrace that nature is the original medicine and can do so much more than the occasional feel good moment. Let it be part of your therapy by putting your devices away and really taking it all in. 

Call it forest bathing or going for a walk in the park, take advantage of the medicine around you. No co-pay or coverage required.