Forest bathing, or Shirin-yoku in Japanese, is defined as a leisurely visit to a forest and is regarded as being similar to natural aromatherapy. Essential wood oils, volatile antimicrobial tree compounds called phytoncides have been studied by scientists since the 1980s. Health benefits include lower blood pressure, boosted immune system, increased cancer-fighting proteins (natural killer cells), reduced stress hormones and improved mental health. A hike or a bike in the woods, while being a beneficial experience, is not the same as forest therapy or forest bathing.
Shinrin-Yoku inspired forest therapy is a slow, guided walk in nature that awakens every sense, calms the mind, and produces more joy, creativity, curiosity and overall good health. The forest is the therapist, the guide opens the door to the forest and invites you to experience the forest with a variety of sensory invitations. It’s like a vacation at the Spa! Forest therapy has been shown to increase your immunity (number of natural killer cells) by 40%. The boost can last as long as a week.
Haida Bolton is a certified Forest Therapy Guide. Check out “Nature with Haida” if you would like to experience forest bathing.