Let’s talk about forest bathing, what it is, and why you should try it today

Updated March 2024

The term ‘forest bathing’ comes from the Japanese ‘Shinrin-Yoku.’ It is a recognized form of nature therapy. It is the act of simply being in nature. You connect with nature through your senses. Be present and connect through sight, sound, smell and touch to enjoy the benefits of forest bathing.

Forest bathing can be a solo or group activity. While meditation is often a solo practice, forest bathing needn’t be done alone. If like me, you’re an extrovert who prefers the company of others, you can still benefit from forest bathing.

It may require some walking in silence as you both observe your surroundings, but there’s no reason you can’t forest bathe with others. Whether done alone or with friends, you will still benefit.

Two women smiling on a walk in the forest
My friend Carolyn and I enjoyed a stroll through the forest on Mount Seymour

5 Incredible Benefits of Forest Bathing

1. Forest bathing is proven to make us happier and less stressed

Research has identified 3 major factors that can make us feel healthier and all of them are achieved with forest bathing. These factors include beneficial bacteria, plant-derived essential oils and negatively charged ions.

These 3 factors interact with our gut bacteria to strengthen our body’s immune system and improve our mental and physical health. It may be hard to believe that walking outside amongst nature can benefit our health, but it most certainly does.

View of Whistler mountain from hotel room window
Gazing out of my hotel room window at the forest and snow got me excited for a walk outside

2. It’s easy; it truly is just a walk in the park

Forest bathing is not going for a hike or doing any form of strenuous exercise outside. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You should slowly meander through nature, quietly observing and listening to nature. Be present in the moment. Some people use this time to meditate.

I prefer to gaze around at the trees, birds and any other wildlife scurrying about in the woods. We have lots of squirrels and chipmunks here in the Pacific Northwest, and raccoons are a common sight in Stanley Park.

Elk standing in the woods
I was fortunate enough to capture this beauty while walking in the forest in Banff, Alberta

Another simple way to enjoy the benefits of forest bathing is to bring a picnic to the park. Sit in the grass, barefoot if possible to indulge in grounding, and enjoy your meal surrounded by nature.

One of the best things about forest bathing is that it is easy and accessible to all. Even if you live in New York City, you have Central Park. Every city or town has parks for all to enjoy.

Group of elk in the forest
It turned out that there were a lot of elk resting in the forest that day

3. It provides an opportunity to disconnect

We all know that we need to disconnect from technology and constantly ‘being on’ and yet, we rarely do it. Forest bathing gives us the perfect opportunity to do exactly this. I call this one a win-win!

If possible, leave your phone at home or in the car. If you must bring it with you on your nature walk be sure to put it on silent mode, or better yet, do not disturb. Even the constant buzzing of notifications will disturb you during your nature walk.

To truly experience the benefits of forest bathing, external distractions should be kept to a minimum. Allow yourself to be fully immersed in the experience.

Woman forest bathing
It’s a soothing experience to put your phone away and just gaze up at the tall trees and listen to the wind rustle through their leaves

4. Forest bathing boosts our creativity

I can speak from experience on this one. When I’m feeling less-than-inspired to write, or am suffering from the dreaded writer’s block, I head outside. Even a brisk walk in nature is often enough to boost my creativity and elicit new ideas and a newfound motivation to create.

I am grateful to live so close to Stanley Park that some days I will hop on my bicycle and ride around the park, through the trees, or around Beaver Lake. I prefer to ride without music when I am trying to fully embrace the benefits of forest bathing.

Forest bathing in giant cedar trees
Sometimes you need a new perspective and I find that looking up at the trees does just that.

5. It lowers your heart rate

Studies have shown forest bathing lowers heart rate and blood pressure. One particular study set out to confirm the cardiovascular benefits of forest walking, and it did just that. Forest bathing has scientific evidence to back it up.

We all know that exercise is good for us, but it turns out that if we take our walk outside it’s even better. Being one with nature is calming so it makes sense that it would lower our heart rate.

I always find that I take deeper breaths when I’m out in nature. It could be the calming effects of nature itself or the smell of fresh air. Either way, deep breaths are both cleansing and calming.

Whistler creek and forest
My favourite kind of therapy is nature therapy. This was taken during a stroll in Whistler.

And there you have it, five reasons to try forest bathing today. Nature has always been a healer to me, long before I had ever heard the term ‘forest bathing’ I was already doing it. Even when I was younger, I would go for long walks on the trails behind my house when I needed to clear my head.

Don’t live anywhere near a forest? Take a virtual forest bathing tour of the old-growth forest Giant Cedars Boardwalk. I can’t say there are scientific benefits to a virtual tour, but who knows, there might be! It’s worth a shot, plus the pictures are pretty awesome 😉

Have you ever tried forest bathing? Knowing all the amazing benefits of forest bathing, would you give it a try? Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, or X and share your thoughts!

5 benefits of forest bathing
Benefits of Forest Bathing