What is forest bathing?

Forest bathing (jap.  森林浴; Shinrin-yoku) –  is a practice of connecting with the natural environment, which has a beneficial effect on health and well-being and can be used for preventive health care, treatment, and rehabilitation. It was first described in Japan in the 1990s, and it is where the first scientific studies confirming its effectiveness were conducted. The word “bathing” refers to the metaphor of immersing oneself in the atmosphere of the forest using all senses during a slow, attentive, and usually silent walk. Numerous scientific studies and publications confirm the positive impact of forest bathing on blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, work of the cerebral cortex, balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, improvement of cellular immunity, concentration, and reduction of depression, anger, and anxiety. Forest bathing, backed by scientific evidence, has been referred to as “forest therapy” by Japanese scientists (Miyazaki).

Currently, there are many approaches and structures to forest bathing. It can be done alone or with a guide, focus on senses and mindfulness in nature, or have a broader dimension accompanied by additional exercises called “invitations,” as proposed by American guide Amos Clifford, and other schools operating in Europe, America, and around the world.

Forest bathing is effective in any age group, regardless of gender, ethnicity, and can be practiced in any season, as long as environmental conditions are suitable.

Forest bathing is not:

  • a nature walk for species recognition
  • an esoteric practice (tree healing, silvotherapy)
  • psychotherapy
  • an alternative (something INSTEAD OF) to pharmacological treatment
  • a spiritual practice
  • a philosophy
  • a sport