Today’s blog is a little different from my usual topics, but I wanted to write about this as I find it fascinating. From my work, you will already know how much I love the forest ~ it inspires almost all of my pieces. My social media accounts are overflowing with images of the forest at different times of the year, from the first new leaves of Spring, to the dappled sunlight pouring through the trees on an early Summer’s morning, to the stunning colours of Autumn, to the stark contrast in Winter. And I’ve also found walking to be a great way to clear the mind, just putting one foot in front of the other can become quite meditative. I’ve done this since I was a teenager, it helped with exam stress although then I didn’t know why. I would just announce after a few hours of studying that I was “going for a walk”. I thought I just needed to get away from the books, get some fresh air and maybe that was part of it. I never had a route planned in my head, I just walked til I felt it was time to go home. I’m lucky that I live in an area of the country that is filled with green open spaces, lots of trees and fields.
How many of you feel refreshed...energised...clear-headed….relaxed….happier….after going for a walk? I don’t mean marching the kids to school or racing to work! I’m talking about those times when you’re away from those pressures, whether on holiday, or after that huge Sunday lunch….
It turns out that in Japan they have a name for this ~ Shrinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”. The phrase was coined in the 1980’s after researchers in Japan and South Korea conducted studies on the benefits of spending time amongst the trees. Every study so far has shown a reduction in stress levels, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. Blood pressure drops and concentration and mental clarity improve from just 15 minutes. This has now become a cornerstone of preventative medicine and healing in Japanese medicine, with 44 accredited Shrinrin-yoku forests in Japan.
Some of the these studies show a boosted immune system, improved mood and a quicker recovery from illness. My mental health has definitely improved over the last few years since having the dogs….I walk every day in the forest and on those days when my husband decides it’s his turn, there is a difference in how I feel.
I love being in the forest, I find it relaxing and energising all at the same time….and inspires me to do the work I love!