Shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) means ‘bathing’ all the senses, whilst walking slowly in the forest.
When taking in the forest atmosphere like this, the brain naturally switches off from the ‘sustained directed attention’ of life’s daily pressures. Shinrin-yoku is restorative, both mentally and physically, like a bath.
Walking in the forest in this way is not like hiking in the woods, nor indeed does it involve collecting or recording information and images like a naturalist or for social media.
Where does Shinrin-yoku come from?
Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) originated in Japan. The term was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1982. Japan’s Forest Agency invested $4 million to study forest bathing and set up the ‘International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine’.
Shinrin-yoku around the world
Around the world research in to the benefits of nature is advancing, with new findings emerging. Finland set up the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) with a taskforce for forest and human health and cross-disciplinary dialogue with a special focus on forest and health professionals.
Growing data and evidence means medical professionals and local councils have a renewed focus on nature, forests and wellbeing within their short term and long term plans for patients, residents and visitors.