“Forest bathing” may have been pioneered in Japan, but the benefits are available to anyone.

Here at Hidden Botanics we believe strongly that the way to enjoy a fulfilled and prosperous life is to have an appreciation of nature and a respect for the world around us. This extends not just to the love and care we put into our floristry and the sustainability of our business and our attempts to limit the harm we cause our planet in our day to day lives, but also our support of the Japanese concept of “shinrin-yoku”.

While it directly translates as “forest shower” or “forest bathing”, let’s nip any misconceptions about what that could mean in the bud. Shinrin-yoku isn’t some new personal hygiene trend. It doesn’t recommend that the best way to clear your pores is to jump in a river (that very much depends on the river).

A more appropriate translation that gets close to the heart of what shinrin-yoku really is would be “taking in the forest atmosphere”.

See? Now put your clothes back on.

Motivated by conservation and wellbeing.

A combination of mindfulness and physical health exercise, shinrin-yoku was developed in Japan in 1982 as both a therapeutic technique as well as an initiative encouraging the populace to reconnect with nature in the midst of expansive mass urbanisation. It was hoped that this would encourage people to protect and explore the natural world. Drawing from a common wisdom amongst many cultures: that it is an undeniable good for the human body and mind to spend time in nature, Shinrin-yoku expressly revolves around the idea that in a technological world where we are all prone to exhaustion, stress and burnout, it is both important and healthy for us to take the time to remove ourselves from the artificial world and connect with nature directly.

Although Japan - rather officially - has 44 accredited shinrin-yoku forests, the practice can be done anywhere. Forest therapy is spreading worldwide, and all you need is a place where it’s possible to extract yourself from the modern world and plunge wholeheartedly into the organic, the raw, the tranquil.

Relaxing in nature, not rushing through it.

To prevent confusion: it’s not a hike, it’s not a run, the practice is not about exertion, but appreciation. In cities, it’s hard to find time to escape the overwhelming sensory overload and just deeply breathe in the fresh air, so regardless of whether you’re walking between the trees or sitting amongst them, it’s still in the spirit of shinrin-yoku.

And it’s not all mindfulness and conjecture. There have been concrete studies since the 90s into the physical benefits of shinrin-yoku. Blood pressure, heart rate, hormones, nerve activity (and more) all improve after only a handful of time spent immersing oneself in nature.

If you’re still doubtful, why not try leaving the phone at home and taking a quiet walk through your nearest woods? Try to absorb the natural world around you, breathing it all in, observing it, feeling a part of it. Let yourself wander aimlessly, forgetting about the world you left behind. You may be surprised at just how good it makes you feel.


Alex x

May 09, 2022 — Cagla Cantimur

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