Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-Yoku, is a practice that involves immersing oneself in nature to improve physical and mental health. The term “forest bathing” was first coined in Japan in the 1980s and has since gained popularity around the world. This practice is not only a way to connect with nature but also has numerous therapeutic benefits that have been scientifically proven.
Research has shown that forest bathing can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, boost the immune system, and improve overall well-being. A study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology found that forest bathing significantly increased natural killer cell activity, which is responsible for fighting off viruses and cancer cells. Another study published in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine found that forest bathing decreased cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, and improved mood among participants.
One theory behind the therapeutic benefits of forest bathing is that the essential oils that trees release, called phytoncides, have a positive impact on the human body. These oils have been shown to have antimicrobial properties and can reduce inflammation in the body. In addition, being in nature can reduce rumination and the repetitive negative thoughts that can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Forest bathing can be practiced in various ways, such as going for a walk in the woods, sitting under a tree, or simply taking in the sights and sounds of nature. The practice is not only beneficial for adults but can also have positive effects on children’s mental health. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that spending time in nature was associated with improved mental health in children and adolescents.
Incorporating forest bathing into one’s daily routine can have long-lasting health benefits. Taking a break from technology and immersing oneself in nature can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall well-being. It is a simple yet effective way to prioritize one’s mental and physical health.
But what if…….you don’t have time each day or even a few days a week to walk in the forest, or you don’t live near a forest?
For those of you who live far from the forest or who are unable to visit it regularly, essential oils can be a powerful tool for bringing the benefits of forest bathing into your daily life. Scots Pine, black spruce, fir species, and Pinon pine are particularly well-suited for this purpose.
Each of these essential oils has a fresh, woodsy aroma that is reminiscent of the forest, and they each have a number of health benefits that make them ideal for use in forest bathing, including the ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Inhaling the aroma of these oils can help to soothe the mind and body, reducing feelings of anxiety and promoting a sense of calm.
A Walk in the Forest Personal Inhaler
Using either a metal or plastic personal inhaler tube
- 10 drops Black spruce (Picea mariana)
- 10 drops Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
- 5 drops Pinon Pine (Pinus edulis)
Breathing Space Roll-On
- 10ml Roll-on bottle
- 7ml Jojoba or other carrier oil
- 3ml Avocado oil (love the color addition)
- 2 drops Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
- 4 drops Fir (Abies alba or other Abies spp.)
- 3 drops Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- *Optional: if you don’t have Avocado oil simply use 10ml jojoba
- Place drops of each essential oil into the roll-on bottle.
- Swivel bottle to combine essential oils.
- Pour carrier oil into the roll-on bottle.
- Holding a clean fingertip to the top, vigorously shake.
- Smell the final blend to make sure it smells the way you would like it to.
- Place the ball and cap on.
- Label bottle (I used this label) and it’s ready to go.
Forest Bathing Bath Salts
- 1 1/2 cups sea salt
- 1 tablespoon jojoba oil (can add more if desired)
- 7 drops Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
- 10 drops Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
- 5 drops Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
I like to combine the essential oils in a small glass bowl or beaker first, then add in jojoba oil. Stir together, then add into salts. Stir until well combined.
Store bathing salts in a glass or PET plastic jar. Be sure to label with ingredients!
Use 1/2 cup in a warm bath 🛀. Relax / Enjoy
While forest bathing may not be accessible to everyone, the use of essential oils such as Scots pine, fir species, pinon pine, and black spruce can bring the benefits of nature into your home or workspace. These oils can promote relaxation, reduce stress, boost the immune system, and provide numerous other health benefits. By incorporating them into your daily routine, you can enjoy the rejuvenating and healing effects of the forest no matter where you are.
Li, Q., Morimoto, K., Kobayashi, M., Inagaki, H., Katsumata, M., Hirata, Y., & Hirata, K. (2008). Visiting a forest, but not a city, increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 21(1_suppl), 117-127.
Lee, J., Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Ohira, T., Kagawa, T., & Miyazaki, Y. (2015). Effect of forest bathing on physiological and psychological responses in young Japanese male subjects. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 20(1), 1-8.
Dadvand, P., Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J., Esnaola, M., Forns, J., Basagaña, X., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., … & Sunyer, J. (2015). Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(26), 7937-7942. Song, C., Ikei, H., Kobayashi, M., & Miyazaki, Y. (2016). Effects of forest walking on autonomic nervous system activity and mood states in middle-aged hypertensive individuals: a pilot study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(3), 2687–2699. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph1