Good weather and a relaxation of the lockdown rules over the summer months have allowed us to keep up our physical and mental wellbeing by taking part in outdoor activities once more.
I, like many others, welcomed the opportunity to be outdoors and one of the new activities that I have discovered, which I wanted to share in this article, is the practice of 'forest bathing'. Despite its name, forest bathing does not involve getting in any water however, it does involve immersing one's self in nature.
Shinrin yoku is a Japanese method of relaxation that consists of being calm and quiet in nature. It involves being mindful amongst trees and observing the nature around whilst breathing deeply. It is a meditation technique that can help de-stress and boost health and wellbeing in a natural way. Research has shown that engaging in such activity can reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and improve concentration and memory.
Forest bathing is a practice that all of us can partake it, be it from our back gardens or by going to a local park, or indeed further afield, to one of Scotland's many forests. You can search here to find a nearby woodland .
However, it is important to note that when partaking in this activity one must be mindful of and observe the Government's guidance on taking outdoor access responsibly. This is set out in more detail in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which is regularly supplemented by additional rules and regulations issued by the Scottish Government to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It is important therefore to stay up-to-date on the all the guidance issued in respect of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.
We have previously written about taking access responsibly and it is essential, now more than ever, that when outdoors we act and behave in a way that is considerate of others. You can do so by remaining socially distanced from others, heading to nature places outside of peak times and perhaps choosing to go to less frequented areas.
The Japanese have known for years that spending mindful time in nature is beneficial for both body and mind. I have tried to embrace this practice in recent months to become more connected to the natural world, and also, to try to disconnect from the digital world and spend some time away from my desk with family and friends.
Whilst the weather getting colder may mean less opportunities to be outside, if you do decide to head outdoors, make sure to layer up and most importantly, don't forget to bring your waterproofs! We do live in Scotland after all, so if out and about on a rainy day, you may very well find yourself forest 'bathing' in the truest sense of the word.