Shinrin-yoku (森林浴)—which literally translates to “forest bath”—is the Japanese practice of “bathing” oneself in nature with the intention of receiving therapeutic benefits. Beginning in Japan in the 1980s (the word itself was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1982), the practice of shinrin-yoku has since spread widely across the planet—there is now a wide range of guided tours operating within Japan and all over the world that teach the benefits of forest therapy.
Research conducted across 24 different forests in Japan shows that spending time in forest environments can reduce concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, increase parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve energy.
Simply put: spending time in nature can be good for your physiological and psychological well being compared to spending time in city environments. While the outcomes of shinrin-yoku studies have been, at times, a little inconsistent, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few hours out to get back to nature.
I – Word Understanding
Cortisol – stress hormone
Parasympathetic nerve – responsible for the “rest and digest” system of our body
Sympathetic nerve – responsible for body’s response to dangerous and stressful
II – Have Your Say
1, What are the things to do when forest bathing? Have you done it already? If not, are you interested to try it?
2, Aside from forest bathing, what other “nature” activities are popular in your area? What activities do you prefer to do for relaxation?
3, Forests in some countries are cleared or destroyed for purposes like agriculture, residential and industrial uses. Do you think forests should be preserved? What are the laws or measures done to protect forests in your country?