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What is ‘Forest Bathing’, and how can it help you feel better?

Calm, relaxed, and mentally clear— forest bathing can do wonders for your health.

We all know nature is good for our mental and physical wellbeing, but does the forest really hold magical powers? Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is the Japanese practice of taking in the forest atmosphere and immersing yourself in nature in its purest form. Unlike a hike, or a walk through the park - forest bathing is focused time soaking in the forest energy and honing in on your senses to reach a state of calm and inner peace.
 
Forest Bathing reduces stress and improves your mood in a matter of hours
Forest Bathing reduces stress and improves your mood in a matter of hours

What is forest bathing?

Forest bathing is immersing yourself in woodland. It’s not just a ‘walk in the woods’ - it’s seen as a holistic form of self-care. Revolving around nature, forest bathing slows down the body's stress response and promotes relaxation. You key is to experience the forest - this means taking in all the sights, smells, and textures as you walk. Engaging your senses, and focusing your mind on the moment. Bathe in the forest, don't just go from A to B through it. It goes without saying this needs to be done unplugged - no technology allowed - to get the most of your time in the woods.
“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet” — Roger Miller

Where did forest bathing originate?

Forest bathing is based on a concept called Shinrin-yoku, which translates to "forest bathing" or "taking in the forest atmosphere." The practice was popularised by a Japanese psychologist Akira Miyake, who noticed that rural dwellers were more content than people living in cities. He studied their way of life, concluding that contact with natural elements—like trees and plants—improves mental health and well-being.

What are the health benefits?

A study in Japan found that people who walked in nature had lower stress readings than those who walked through city setting —and that their moods were better for up to 24 hours after the walk. It’s also been shown that forest walks have a stronger positive impact on our mood and stress response than a park.
Humans are meant to interact with nature, and when we're cut off from it for too long, we suffer emotionally and physically. When you spend time in green spaces like forests, your heart rate slows down, stress hormone levels reduce, serotonin production increases, and blood pressure decreases—all of which helps to calm your body and your mind.
Japan’s Tohoku University found that spending time in nature helped reduce stress and improve sleep quality in adults with insomnia. Another study from 2015 found that students who spent two hours walking through campus forests had lower blood pressure than those who walked around the same grounds without going near any trees.

Does forest bathing really work?

You might be wondering whether forest bathing actually works—if it's true that being in nature is good for us, why is forest bathing seen as somehow separate or different? Well, there's been a lot of research done on how forests in particular can help us feel better and more relaxed.
One study found that forest bathing can lower blood pressure and stress hormones. Another showed that people who spent time in a forest had lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) than those who didn't get to go outside on their lunch break. So yes, spending time in nature helps us feel calm and relaxed, but the sheer density of forests, along with their clear separation from urban sprawls, makes them a more effective space to properly unwind compared to city parks or gardens.
 
Stay right next to woodland at Woody, a woodland Unplugged Cabin
Stay right next to woodland at Woody, a woodland Unplugged Cabin
 
Forest bathing is an accessible, easy, and free way to give your mental health a real boost. Even if you don't refer to the practice as forest bathing, or prefer to put your own spin on it, spending time in nature is a surefire way to improve your mood and nourish your mental health. Why not do a little forest bathing, before heading back to your very own cabin nestled in the heart of the countryside? Cabins such as Olive and Woody are nestled right next to your own forest so you can soak up all that good energy.