Life in the fast lane can sometimes mean that we forget to make our well-being a top priority, but now more than ever it is important to pause, relax and calm the mind. For those looking to unwind and escape the bustle of busy day-to-day life, we suggest trying the Japanese relaxation method of Forest Bathing – an excellent remedy that allows you to enjoy the outdoors as well as seeing many health benefits.
Forest Bathing, also known as Shinrin-Yoku, is an ancient healing method that simply means spending time in the outdoors, walking slowly, and taking in your surroundings underneath a canopy of trees, branches and leaves. Although the name might suggest otherwise, you won’t need your swimsuit for this one!
Studies have shown that this calming practice can reduce blood pressure, improve concentration and boost the immune system. Taking on the technique means immersing yourself in nature by leisurely strolling through forest or woodland while embracing the natural atmosphere which is also shown to increase moods, reduce fatigue and generate feelings of awe – who wouldn’t want to try it?
So, where to begin? We suggest starting off by stepping away from tech and slow down your pace by leaving your thoughts and devices at home. Decide on a woodland or forest destination and allow all your senses to open – discover the smells of the forests, the sounds from up above and the touch of your natural surrounds, allowing yourself to truly connect with nature. What can you smell, touch and feel?
There are guided groups and tours on Forest Bathing available across the UK, but here is a selection of our favourite Forest Bathing spots recommended by the National Trust:
Box Hill, Surrey
Escape the hustle and bustle of London life and visit this well-known beauty spot just 1 hour outside of London. Explore the abundance of woodland and discover the weaving paths that lead to breath-taking views, remember to slow down and fill your lungs with the fresh air.
Also known as the gateway to the Peak District, Longshaw has a diverse landscape with moorland and ancient woodland. As you slowly stroll through the woods, observe the overhang of intertwining branches and while adopting the Forest Bathing technique, be sure to stop by the pond restoration project where you can spot tadpoles, fish and birds also observe their natural habitat.
Coed Ganllwyd, Wales
Located in Snowdonia, this hidden gem is the UK’s equivalent of a tropical rainforest. Surrounded by waterfalls and the sounds of running water, this nature reserve is home to an island of botanical trees – which makes a sanctuary hot-spot for Forest Bathing beginners.
Head further north to Northumberland, Cragside where it is renowned for housing over seven million trees and shrubs. A canopy of green is the cover all year round and with over 1,000 acres to explore this immersive woodland is a great spot for those who choose to have a longer and even more leisurely Forest Bathing session.
Standish Woods, Gloucestershire
Sitting amongst the Cotswolds landscape, Standish Wood has many walking routes that visitors can stroll upon while Forest Bathing. Follow the paths through the peaceful woodland which will take you through to spectacular views of Severn Vale and the Cotswolds. For those feeling a little more adventurous, the walk can be extended by climbing up to Haresfield Beacon.
For those who can’t access the forest right now, 360-degree virtual experiences are available on the Forestry England website. You can even bring the soothing sounds of Forest Bathing into your office or living room with our Outside Inside playlist
Whether it’s five minutes or five hours, Forest Bathing can be a simple way to reconnect with nature, switch off and soothe the mind. Try it and feel benefits for yourself, and be sure to let us know how you get on over on Instagram.