In today’s busy, fast-paced world, it can be easy to end up spending most of our time indoors and isolated from nature. But research has shown that taking a break from our hectic schedules to enjoy some time in the great outdoors can have profound effects on our health and well-being, relieving stress by giving us a chance to unplug and unwind.
The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing
Reflective of just how important time in nature can be for our minds and bodies, forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is considered a Japanese art. A practice in meditation, forest bathing involves contemplative, slow-paced walks through the woods in order to restore the human-nature connection that can be so beneficial to our mental health.
The key concept behind forest bathing is that the practice is meant to be a slow, stress-relieving experience rather than a strenuous hike. Taking time to stop and enjoy a pleasant view is just as integral as is the actual physical movement. That being said, moderate exercise has also been shown to help alleviate the symptoms associated with many mental health disorders.
Using Nature to Cope
While spending time in nature can be beneficial for everyone, especially in an urban, competitive environment, those suffering from specific mental health concerns like anxiety or depression may see reduced symptoms by spending more time in nature and engaging in other stress-reducing practices. Though a slow, meditative walk may not be a replacement for other types of mental health treatment, the effects can be complementary to other options for therapy.