Strolling through the woods has always been a bit of an escape for me. Wandering around slowly, taking photos, listening closely, breathing deeply…it’s my happy place.
Turns out, there’s a reason. As I read this morning, it would seem that I’ve been unknowingly utilizing a Japanese practice called Shinrin Yoku, translated “forest bathing” or luxuriating in the forest. Here’s a link to the article, but here’s the free prize inside:
By combining mindfulness and spending time in nature — two activities that have restorative properties on their own — shinrin-yoku can yield significant health advantages: A study conducted across 24 forests in Japan found that when people strolled in a wooded area, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol plummeted almost 16 percent more than when they walked in an urban environment. And the effects were quickly apparent: Subjects’ blood pressure showed improvement after about 15 minutes of the practice. But one of the biggest benefits may come from breathing in chemicals called phytoncides, emitted by trees and plants. Women who logged two to four hours in a forest on two consecutive days saw a nearly 40 percent surge in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells, according to one study.
And there you have it.
So last night I “luxuriated” in the woods and was rewarded with the sweetest show: FIVE tiny fawns in the nature viewing area, bogarting the local songbirds’ food. One little guy tried to climb up into the seed trough to get more comfortable. Another stood in the middle of a waterfall to take a drink. A few others head-butted each other and playfully egged each other on. I took some photos, but very few. It was just more fun to watch.
I can tell you without monitoring or measuring a thing that my health was improved. It’s as peaceful and happy as I’ve felt in a while. Looks like Shinrin Yoku will be happening more often in my corner of the world.