F is for Forest Bathing: mindfulness in nature

Time spent among the trees is proven to improve your wellbeing – but how?

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© Raimund Linke
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Moss covered ground and tree trunks in a conifer forest with the sun shining through the trees at Loch Awe in Argyll and Bute in Scotland

How can spending time in forests and woodland improve your physical and mental health?

The first thing you need to know is that forest bathing does not involve swimming costumes, or even water. ‘Bathing’ in this sense just means a fully immersive experience of woodlands.

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Also known as forest therapy, forest bathing encourages frazzled urbanites to slow down, relax and engage their senses with the woodland around them: the sound of the wind in the leaves, the fragrance of fern and fungus, the play of dappled light on the forest floor.

F is for Forest Bathing ©Lynn Hatzius
F is for Forest Bathing ©Lynn Hatzius

Hailed as the hot new trend in mindfulness, with the term only recently arriving in the UK from Japan, forest bathing is said by its practitioners to provide impressive health benefits.

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Step into the trees and feel the benefits ©Getty
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Advocates point to scientific evidence that time spent relaxing in woodland can reduce stress, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, increase energy levels and improve sleep.

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