Shinrin-yoku. The Japanese term, dating back to the 1980s, has quickly become one of the hottest things to do today. Also called forest bathing, it came about as a way to encourage people to reconnect with nature and offset the burnout that’s so common in the modern world.
While many of us have only recently heard the term, forest bathing isn’t really new. We’ve known for years the rewards of staying close to nature: it forces us to slow down, relax, opens up our senses, and inspires creativity.
The best part? You don’t need to do anything fancy.
1. Ditch the gadgets
The whole point is to unplug from technology so leave your phone behind. If you must have it with you, put it on silent so that there are no distractions.
Ditch the camera too. You’ll only feel tempted to shoot your surroundings which will defeat the purpose of disconnecting from the world and immersing yourself in nature.
2. Find a quiet place (but stay safe)
To really swim with the trees, find a place away from the bustle of the city. You want to surround yourself with the sounds of nature – not traffic. Do pick a place that’s marked for visitors and be mindful of wildlife that can be a threat to your safety.
Don't forget to keep an eye out for crocodiles, and always take your Crocpak along for added safety!
3. Use your senses to take in nature
Be still and allow all your senses to tune in to what’s around you. Listen, smell, and see to let the forest into yourself. Don’t rush it. You’re not there to accomplish a goal. You’re only there to let the forest work its magic.
Take long, slow breaths of the fresh forest air. Feel how it cleanses your lungs and refreshes your mind. Each breath you take in purifies your soul and each one you exhale releases worry and stress.
Deep breathing, enhanced by the forest air, will calm your nervous system and slow down your heart rate and blood pressure.
5. Feel the forest
Kick off your shoes and feel the texture of the earth. Look at how the sunlight dapples through the leaves. Feel the breeze on your skin and hair. See the wildflowers dotting the ground. Hear the birds chirping and cawing. Notice the ebb and flow of life all around you.
We’re so caught up with work and other responsibilities that it’s easy to find “excuses” not to get back to nature. But even if forest bathing is something you can only do once a month, you can still make it a part of daily life.
Each day, take a few moments to get away from technology. Look out the window at the birds flying by. Observe the plants growing on the sidewalk and the insects going about their day. Every moment you spend reconnecting with nature will keep you grounded, centered, and more at peace.