Forest Bathing—otherwise known as shinrin yoku—is the practice of taking in the forest atmosphere in order to help the body relax, remove tension and stress, and improve overall mood and wellbeing. It was developed in 1980s Japan and is still considered to be a cornerstone of preventative healthcare in Japanese medicine.
What’s more, is that there is a fair amount of scientific literature to support the claims that forest bathing is good for you. However, even without looking to science, most of us probably agree that taking time out to absorb nature leaves us feeling refreshed, calm and happier. I guess, one could say that we already know that the land is good for us on an intuitive level. But just in case, here are some reports.
If you don’t want to wade through the science, the consensus is that forest bathing can help to lower blood pressure, boost immune system function, increase energy levels, improve sleep and accelerate a recovery from an illness or surgery. What’s more is that some trees give off antimicrobial volatile organic compounds that help the “natural killer” or NK cells that we have and make them even stronger, therefore further supporting the immune system.
Practitioners of forest bathing claim that the natural benefits include a deeper and clearer intuition and an increased flow of energy. Some claim that they are better able to develop meaningful relationships with others as a result.
Sometimes a vacation is all about visiting a city and living the high life, but often, a vacation is a time to get away from the buzz and the business of a hectic life and spend some time getting back to nature. The good news, is that you don’t have to go to Japan in order to forest bathe—although, with 67 percent of Japan being covered in forests, it is certainly easy to do there.
Many of our Bud and Breakfast properties are located in areas of incredible natural beauty. Coupled with the medicinal and stress-relieving benefits of cannabis consumption, you can get yourself some forest bathing too. Doing both at the same time might just be one of the most holistic approaches to lowering your stress levels in your vacation time.
According to Qing Li, a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo and the president of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine, people new to forest bathing should plan around their fitness levels so that they do not get too tired, and those who go out for a whole day should plan to stay in the forest for around four hours and cover no more than 5 kilometers. Rest frequently and take plenty of fluids along with you.
Li recommends taking a hot spring bath if that is available after the forest bathing session rather than before, and if you really want to make the most of the immune system benefits, a three day stay is advisable.
Research is pointing in nature’s direction when it comes to preventative health care, and in Japan, doctors have no problem prescribing a stint in the forest. The same is happening with the cannabis plant, as more and more people get over the erroneously bad reputation weed has been tarred with and open themselves to its healing properties.
Go! Walk in the woods (and maybe take some pot with you).