The Benefits of Forest Therapy

So many of us are leading hectic lives, and suffering with anxiety and stress on a day to day basis as a result. I guess that at least some of these resonate with you?

  • Expectations from society - we can 'have it all' / the glorification of 'busy'. 
  • Balancing demands of work and family
  • Never feeling good enough
  • Worrying about health issues
  • Feeling lonely / disconnected
  • Constant comparison to others
  • Managing family responsibilities and difficulties
  • A lack of quality time for yourself  
  • Negativity around us (media, social media, other people)

There is growing scientific evidence from the UK that proves that just 2 hours of forest therapy results in improvements in both physical and emotional health.  Results from my early sessions corroborate these findings (I asked participants to complete the recognised psychological rating POMS test (Profile of Mood States) before and after the walk).

Some of the proven health benefits are listed below:

  • Reduced levels of stress hormone cortisol
  • Increased happiness; reduced depression, anxiety and ADHD
  • Enhanced memory, focus and concentration 
  • Increased sense that life is worthwhile
  • Heightened ability to feel trust, empathy and kindness towards others. 
  • Increased sense of gratitude, joy and wonder - proven to increase resilience
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery/illness*
  • Boosted immune system and increased count of and activity in NK cells that are known to fight cancer*
  • Reduced high blood pressure and heart rate
  • Improved sleep
  • Feelings of rejuvenation
  • Increased creativity

* Specifically attributed to inhalation of the chemicals emitted from trees (mainly conifers and oak) called Phytoncides (note that this will take you to the scientific report on a separate site) 

From a personal perspective, the practice has fundamentally changed who I am; I cannot un-see what I have seen on my nature connection journey (not that I would want to). There is so much in nature that brings a deep joy and delight and I feel so grateful to have found this now. Considering yourself part of nature rather than separate to it, changes everything. 



Endorsements

Forest Bathing is endorsed by several national organisations and public figures.

1.     The Duchess of Cambridge is a fan of forest therapy and the garden she co-designed at the Chelsea Flower Show in the summer was inspired by Shinrin-Yoku.  https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/

2.     The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) introduced a series of forest therapy events across the country this summer. 

3.     Forestry England, which manages public woodland, has endorsed the practice as a way of regaining balance and escaping the pressures of everyday life https://www.forestryengland.uk/blog/forest-bathing

4.     Stuart Dainton, head of innovation at the Woodland Trust, said, “social prescribing through aspects of shinrin-yoku, forest therapy, I think is a route to helping the nation destress”. He added that, “It can help children and adults fight the ‘always on’ culture prompted by social media”. https://www.standard.co.uk/

5. The Woodland Trust has said that Forest Therapy should be prescribed by the NHS to treat stress. They suggest patients can reconnect with nature by practising mindfulness amongst the trees.

Happy People