What is Forest Therapy

Forest Therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic practice that connects people to natural environments through gentle sensory based 'invitations' (optional mindfulness and meditation exercises)I think of Forest Therapy as a preventative medicine, rather than a treatment. 

There are 7 key elements to the practice:

  1. Sensory Immersion 
  2. Group reflection 
  3. Nature connection
  4. Enjoyment
  5. Slow paced
  6. Peace & quiet
  7. Variety 

It is when ALL these factors are present within the invitations that healing happens, with the forest as the therapist and the guide as the facilitator

Read more about the 7 elements in the blog

Forest therapy is NOT something you can do alone, a dog walk, a social chat with friends or a nature identification exercise. It is sometimes called Forest Bathing but no swimming is required! 


A typical session

We start with a brief explanation of the history and science after which we move through a series of group and individual invitations. You will be able to turn off your worrying and wandering mind, and connect with your breath and body. It's not your average forest walk; it's very, very slow and time is passed engaging senses

Much of the time is spent in silence, although there is a chance for group reflection after each invitation. There will definitely be an opportunity to just sit with a tree. Finally we have a closing chat with tea and snacks.  

Having time to relax in our wonderful ancient woodland can lead to emotional healing and a host of other benefits which are proven to last for 2-4 weeks. 

 

The history 

The practice of Forest Therapy originated in Japan 40 years ago, where it's known as Shinrin-Yoku ("bathing your senses in the atmosphere of the forest"). Japan is the most densely populated country on earth, with correspondingly high stress levels, and it’s also one of the most heavily forested. In the 1980s the Japanese government carried out extensive scientific research which found that a two-hour forest therapy session could reduce high blood pressure, lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and improve concentration and memory.

And their findings went further; they found that the essential oils released by trees boost the immune system so recovery time from surgery or illness is reduced.  When Shinrin-Yoku was introduced to the health system, participants reported feeling better, sleeping longer, and enjoying these effects for weeks following an experience. It is now practised by more than 5 million Japanese, extends across the whole of Asia, and is growing in popularity in Europe, Canada and the US.

The results of my trial forest therapy walks align with the above and also demonstrate a considerable reduction in anxiety and increase in energy levels.  

Happy People