Rooted in scientific research, forest therapy is proving to be one of the most effective antidotes to our modern, technology-driven lifestyles.
The practice of shinrin-yoku or “forest therapy” was introduced in Japan in the 1980ies as a response to karoshi or “death by overwork,” and today there are some 60 designated Forest Therapy Trails across the country that millions of people visit annually for stress relief and preventative health care.
Nature as health care? Yes. We evolved to be in intimate connection with the natural world and to know and respect it as a living entity. Today our lives have been largely severed from nature, and we are suffering from a global epidemic of “nature deficit disorder” and serious stress-related issues. Despite this, our deep connection with nature remains, including nature’s power to restore and heal us, and we can still come home to it. As we make sensory connections with the natural world, we reawaken to the beauties of life, and our bodies can heal and restore themselves.
A growing number of studies by researchers worldwide show that exposure to nature provides us with many important physical and mental health benefits. By slowing down and immersing our senses in nature, our brains and nervous systems are calmed, levels of the stress hormone cortisol is lowered and the immune system is strengthened.
Nature connection has been shown to enhance deep relaxation, improve sleep, and lower blood pressure. It can make us less anxious, angry and depressed. Contact with soil has shown to help improve cognitive function and elevate mood. Time spent in nature speeds recovery time after illness and injury. Inhaling the scent of evergreen trees has shown to increase our immunal functioning and the body’s ability to fight infection. Nature can truly boost physical and mental energy, bring focus and creativity and help us dwell longer in a positive state of mind. It is even said to make us kinder.
Regular exposure to nature — even 30 minutes a day in a park — can connect you to some of its healing powers. Unlike our technology devices, nature connects us with living plants, animals, mountains, oceans, ecosystems, other people, our memories, dreams, and more. Turning off your devices and looking at the sky may be the most interesting, powerful action of your day. And if you cannot remember the last time you walked barefoot on the grass or really took a closer look at a tree, it’s definitely time for some shinrin-yoku. Our walks offer a highly unique, enjoyable, effective way to reconnect with the natural world.
Shinrin-yoku or Forest Therapy walks focus on slowing down and engaging the senses with the natural world for deep relaxation, pleasure and rejuvenation. The walks are composed of a series of invitations to connect with nature, such as meeting a tree, making nature art or listening to a stream. Walks cover less than a mile, last about 3 hours, and end with a tea ceremony. No experience necessary.
To begin shinrin-yoku we recommend walking with a trained Forest Therapy Guide who knows how to gently slow you down and open your senses. Then, after one or two walks, you may choose to go alone or continue with a guide, which offers a more communal experience. In this practice the guides are not your primary therapists. Nature is the therapist.
Walks are offered in various places around Stockholm or in other parts of the world, through our networks in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Please send a message for details.
(a special thanks to Julie Hall, www.shinrin-yokuwalks.com for help with English section)