We appreciate recent features in the CBC reminding us of the research evidence on the calming and healing benefits offered by Nature, in the form of Shinrin-yoku – ‘forest bathing’ / ‘forest therapy’. In these ongoing unsettling times, especially, we welcome having a wide range of strategies for buoying positive energy, spirits and health, for ourselves and for you, our Readers.
From CBC Sudbury we learn in the piece “Forest therapy viable option to deal with pandemic stress,” that “After a year of spending more time than usual cooped up indoors, some doctors are writing nature prescriptions. They aim to get their patients to experience a range of mental and physical benefits that come from spending time outdoors.”
“Andrea Prazmowski, Ottawa’s first certified forest therapy guide, said that doctors are looking at evidence and seeing just how powerful an antidote a few hours in nature can be. The effects, Prazmowski said, can last for weeks.” Researchers “found that our stress hormones decrease, the levels of cortisol and our blood pressure drops, our heart rate functioning is supported, and even our immune systems gets a boost.” (CBC – https://bit.ly/3sYjBTv)
CBC PEI expands in the piece “How forest bathing can help you deal with pandemic stress,” adding re-assurance that the positive benefits are available to all, rural and urban, with and without the forest!
“A lot of the stress of the pandemic is in your head, and forest bathing can help you escape that.”
“And the best part, certified forest therapy guide Julietta Sorensen Kass told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier, is you don’t even need a forest to do it.”
” ‘Many of us can’t go there, and it’s not necessary, because as long as you’re engaging with green living things you’re going to get a benefit,’ said Kass.”
” ‘It doesn’t even have to be a natural space. You can experience healing and a lot of the positive responses subconsciously by spending time with a little jade plant in your office.’ “
“The ideas behind forest therapy are based on the Japanese practice of shinrin’yoku, which was developed by the Japanese government when it found the health of its people declining when they moved out of farm fields and into factories. The essential part, said Kass, is to get out of your head and use your senses to experience the moment you are living in right now.”
“The purpose of forest therapy is to take time to escape your thoughts.”
” ‘Try to find things that you can connect with physically. Touch bark, touch the moss, feel the air on your skin, look for different scents that might be interesting. Listen, how far away can you hear things?’ said Kass.”
“Kass recommends taking just 10 minutes to connect with living things around you, whether that is in a forest, on a beach or with a house plant.”
“And if you find it hard to focus for 10 minutes, that’s a sign you really need it. But don’t worry, she said. It will get easier with practice.” (CBC – https://bit.ly/31SaKXG)
World Expert in Forest Medicine
Intrigued and want to learn more? Dr. Qing Li is considered “the world’s foremost expert in forest medicine,” according to this description about his book, “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness,” published in 2018. “The definitive guide to the therapeutic Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness.” (Amazon – https://amzn.to/3s06Eal)
Curious to learn more about what a Forest Therapist does and what training is required for certification?
We learned from this CBC piece (https://bit.ly/3rWMQF5) that Ronna Schneberger, a Canmore-based forest therapy guide is certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (https://bit.ly/2PI4vmP).
Positive Energy From Nature
Thank you to Jim MacQuarrie for these beautiful photos to remind us of Nature’s bounteous offer of calming, positive experiences and energy….if we only make space to notice and take time to “escape our thoughts”.