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Forest bathing - Portland, Oregon

We went "forest bathing" today. 

Forest bathing is basically being in the presence of trees. This act became part of a national public health program in Japan in 1982 when the forestry ministry coined the phrase shinrin-yoku and promoted topiary as therapy. 

Forest bathing works like this: Just be with trees. No hiking, no counting steps on a Fitbit. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything.

The Japanese practice of forest bathing is proving that “bathing” in the natural world is associated with lower stress levels, a boost to natural killer cells in the immune system, better mood, self-esteem, physical fitness, memory, attention, and creativity, among other benefits, some psychologists are beginning to offer “eco therapy".

To add to the benefits, breathing in forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better—inhaling phytoncide seems to actually improve immune system function. 

This is due to various essential oils, generally called phytoncide, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better—inhaling phytoncide seems to actually improve immune system function. 

In other words, being in nature makes us physiologically, less amped.  

Trees soothe the spirit too. Per a study on forest bathing’s psychological effects surveyed 498 healthy volunteers. The subjects showed significantly reduced hostility and depression scores, coupled with increased liveliness, after exposure to trees. So, forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes!

There are many fun techniques to help you ease into forest therapy. When you enter the area, pick up a rock, put a problem on it and drop it. You can pick up your troubles again when you leave, but no one does:)   

Don't effort, just be.