There is a wellness opportunity right outside your door and it won't cost you a dime. What is it you ask?
When was the last time you were outside in a natural environment? No phone, no agenda just walking and taking in nature through all your senses? This activity is a form of nature and forest therapy influenced by the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku or forest bathing.
Currently, our attention is constantly being tugged, pulled, poked and prodded. We spend a large portion of our day indoors, encased in concrete and in front of screens. It seems intuitive that nature would be healing, from an evolutionary point of view we have spent most of our time outside and only a short time living indoors, so it seems obvious that spending time in nature would be beneficial.
There is some hard evidence that shows this to be true. It all began with a study done in 1984 by psychologist Robert Ulrich, his research was the effect of nature on hospital patients. Ulrich was the first to use modern day standards, controls and quantified health outcomes to demonstrate that looking out at a garden can sometimes speed healing from surgery, infections and other ailments. In short, what his research showed was that patients who looked over a garden healed on average a day faster with significantly less pain meds and had fewer post surgical issues compared to those patients who only stared at a brick wall.
There was also research happening in other areas of the world. In the 1980's the Japanese created a concept called Shinrin Yoku - Forest Bathing, or taking in the forest atmosphere. It was developed in response to their tech based economy. Many workers became ill experiencing depression, anxiety, distraction and aches and pains thought to be caused by too much time indoors, too much concrete and sensory overload. Shinrin Yoku was developed to get workers back outside. Research on Forest Bathing continues in both Japan and South Korea.
Today, this concept comes to the US with a significant amount of research being done showing the benefits of time in nature. Some benefits include lower anxiety, depression and blood pressure, increased feelings of wellbeing, increased heart rate variability and improvement of the immune and cardiovascular systems.
Not sure about this whole nature thing, check it out for yourself, take 5-10 breaths inside either at work or home and notice how you feel. Then go outside in an area that has trees and greenery take 5-10 breaths and notice how you feel. Chances are that you will feel more calm and centered when you are out in nature.
Next Blog: The Magic of Trees in Nature Therapy