If you have been feeling stressed, overwhelmed, irritable or just plain exhausted, it may be time to add more nature to your life. The Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, which translates to “forest bathing” is a simple, natural way to destress and reset.
With so many of us living in stressful urban environments, it can be hard to decompress and live an optimal life. In fact, a large majority of the population worldwide lives in cramped, heavily populated urban areas with very little nature. Do you find yourself becoming anxious in bustling cities like NYC? Don’t fret -you are not alone. Studies show NYC is the most unhappy city in America, citing poor quality of life, poverty, and high rents as the culprits. And, those three determining factors are only getting worse in most urban cities, leading more of us to become overly stressed and unhealthy.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Ecopsychology (which includes Shinrin Yoku) has been proven to lift the mood, decrease stress and anxiety and increase focus. So, what is it about being outdoors that calms us? Besides the obvious factors like peace and tranquility, researchers trace this correlation of nature and happiness back to our hunter and gatherer days, where we spent most of our time outdoors living off the land. Naturally, colors of nature such as green and blue are soothing to our psyches, while grey (a primary color of urban areas) can promote lack of energy.
Because humans are not inherently city-dwellers, our artificial living environments have essentially taken us out of our natural state, and as a result many of us can become more stressed in urban cities. A viable solution to reducing urban stress is practicing Shinrin Yoku and getting outdoors more. Take time out of your day to walk through a park or take weekend trips to your local mountain to get some “forest therapy.” Best of all, Shinrin Yoku can be practiced alone for free or with an instructor or group. To learn more about Shinrin Yoku and to locate a practitioner near you, check out the video below and visit http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/