Summer forest, what? Forest bathing is an ancient practice rooting in Japan. Throughout the country of Japan there are hundreds of miles of trails and forests designated by the government as part of their national health system because in Japanese culture, regularly taking walk through the forests is a designated component for good health. The Japanese Society of Forest Medicine, led by Qing Li, has found that people who regularly participate in forest bathing feel less stress, less anxiety, and less anger. Studies have examined the way nature affects people in many different ways. Some studies reveal that urban living residents who can just see a bush or some greenery from their apartment windows are healthier and less stressed. Nature immersive studies have found that spending time in nature improves self-esteem, body image, depression, and more. A very simply study from Stanford found, if not unsurprisingly, that a group of participants who walked through a green area of the campus had different results in scores of happiness and focus that participants who spent an equal amount of time walking on a street near traffic. The greenery-walkers were happier.
John Muir is the pioneer of American natural medicine. Following on the footsteps of the romantics like Ralph Waldo Emerson, who poetically wrote about nature, Muir laid the groundwork, quite literally, for hiking and exploring nature in America. “The mountains are calling,” Muir famously quipped, “and I must go.” Spending time in the forest is a great way to escape the summer heat as you climb in elevation and find solace beneath the shade of trees. It’s also a great way to escape the summer hustle and bustle as you search for peace and quiet while everyone else is on vacation. Here are some quick tips for summer forest bathing.
- Explore your local parks or national parks. Start with state and city protected parks and plan greater road trips to big parks which require extensive exploring. Don’t worry, you don’t have to see all of it. National parks extend for thousands of miles.
- Practice heat-safety and bring plenty of extra water, hats, and bandanas to keep you cool. Don’t forget your sunscreen.
- When walking, spend at least fifteen minutes walking without communicating to anyone else. Utilize the tools of mindfulness to be aware of your surroundings, how being in the forest relaxes you, and the gratitude that you feel being there.
- Take time to learn about the land and its history. Getting away to nature is great, but it is important to learn about and honor the reason that area is available for enjoying. Realize that everyone and everything, even forests and parks, have a story.
Nature and adventure therapy are our primary focus in addition to a clinically intensive approach to treatment at LEAD Recovery Center. Our multiphase programs for transitional care help clients become leaders and mentors, giving their gifts and tools to the next generation of recovery as they learn from the one before them. Call us today for information on our immersive learning programs: 800-380-0012