Updated: Mar 11, 2021
In times of stress and change, it’s more important than ever to connect with the natural world.
Nature immersion – or, ecotherapy – has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety, lower cortisol levels, relieve high blood pressure, improve heart and skin conditions, and alleviate asthma.
Eco-Therapy: A Definition
The concept of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing or forest therapy) was developed in Japan in the 1980’s, and suggested that people who spend time in natural settings, particularly under the canopies of trees, will experience positive emotional, physiological and psychological effects.
Being in the forest is, to put it simply, pure magic. The sound of the wind in the trees, the crunch of old leaves, twigs and pinecones beneath your feet, the sharp smell of clean air, the way the light is green-tinged and dappled by the boughs.
How could you not feel better in mind, body and spirit with all that going on?
The Science Behind It
It’s not just a theory: shinrin-yoku has actually been put to the test by honest-to-goodness doctors, who found a plethora of positive effects from forest bathing.
“Walking in the woods [caused] significant reduction in chronic widespread pain and depression”, found one study. Students who walked just 15 minutes a day in the woods displayed decreased stress and heart rates.
Time spent in the woods has also been proven to have a positive effect on feelings of anger, aggression displays, overall mood, ADHD symptoms in children and even recovery from disease.