It might sound New Age, but it’s the latest travel trend – new forest bathing experiences keep popping up across Britain’s wooded areas. It’s founded on the Japanese nature therapy, shinrin-yoku.
While that’s not a literal translation – there’s no soaking yourself in water – it is about immersing yourself in nature’s healing powers.
Well, yes. Kind of. Except there’s no specific destination in mind. Here, you’re fostering a deeper relationship with the space around you – keep things slow and relaxed.
Be extra mindful of your surroundings and notice exactly what is around you – meditate to gentle birdsong, smell fresh pine after rainfall, and touch old oaks.
Japanese researchers developed the therapy in the 1980s, discovering that a two-hour forest bathing session had a number of wellness benefits, helping to bust stress and improve your mood and memory.
As a result, the government phased in shinrin-yoku as part of a public health programme. It really caught on – there are now 44 accredited shinrin-yoku forests in Japan.
While you can go as part of a course/trip, the great thing about forest bathing is you can also just go out and do it on your own, for free, at a time, length and woods of your choosing.
A tech detox is a good start, maybe take a weekend and camp/lodge somewhere in the forest. Don’t just focus on what you can see and hear – the things that you can smell, touch and taste are important, too.
If you fancy company, you can also organise forest therapy walks and befriend other people benefiting from the practice.