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Forest bathing and stress reduction 

Forest Bathing….or as the Japanese would say ‘Shinrinyoku’. 

Humans for aeons of time have enjoyed the natural environments. Now ‘we’ humans are built for endurance and we can endure the concrete of the cities and urban environment, however we are not built to just stay in these concrete and 90 degree angle walled cities, We need to get out into nature…. WHY I hear you say?

 autumn autumn leaves blur close up 589840

Now there are many treatments we can provide, at the London and Hampshire anxiety clinics, however forest bathing is not something we can do at the offices, we can talk about the benefits, but the real deal is to get yourself out into the natural environment of a forest.  However there are benefits in reducing the stress response, if it is too busy for you to be able to get out of town for a while, you can use our Forest bathing Virtual reality environment,  in our clinic.  Research also shows immersveive VR enviroments are of a positive benefit. Appel et al (2020).  I will talk about this Virtual reality experience for you in another blog.

Anyway, lets look at the research about actual forest bathing…. who would believe the benefits that are indicated in research to date.

Now I want to take you all the way over to the far east where this research started. Imagine the blossom trees and forests of Japan.

From 2005 the Japanese began to investigate the effect of forest  bathing. Now Im guessing (and just attempting to build a picture),  at first you might just see people being mindful, wandering around the forest, sitting or laying around, the soft bracken and grasses on the ground, all under the comfort of the trees. 

Now, as we all know, there is always more than what meets they eye. Yep, specific essential oils  are naturally given off by trees, they give off their own microbiome, that the research indicates is of benefit to human health. Li Q (2010).  Taking in that fresh forest air, the breath takes in what is called Phytoncides (essential oils) from trees. These 'wood' essentional oils are naturally antimicrobial and enter your lungs. How's that for something free and from nature? Only manufactured from the best, mother nature. 

The microbiome that is given off is of benefit by reducing stress hormones in the body and  reducing the inflammatory response. The research showed a reduction in psychosocial stress, including anxiety depression and anger. just by forest bathing in the woods. Li Q (2020).

In addition, further research  indicates  that even looking at pictures of nature,  can increase attention control. Berman (2008).  these images of nature are called fractals.  Observing fractal images are known to decrease the stress response and cortisol.

Lets not wait any longer, when that free time arrives, or make a plan for you and your family to go out and play in the woods, walk for an hour or just sit under the comfort of the canopy of trees, observing the quietness of nature at its best. Notice as you are there, do you begin to feel more grounded? More relaxed, more at ease with yourself? More tuned in to the present moment?

Time to explore and no prescription needed, time to embrace and participate in what nature provides best..

Appel, L., Appel, E., Bogler, O., Wiseman, M., Cohen, L., Ein, N., … Campos, J. L. (2020). Older Adults With Cognitive and/or Physical Impairments Can Benefit From Immersive Virtual Reality Experiences: A Feasibility Study. Frontiers in medicine, 6, 329. doi:10.3389/fmed.2019.00329

Berman, M.G., Jonides, J., and Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological Science, 19(12), 1207-1212.

Li Q. (2010). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 9–17. doi:10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3

The London and Hampshire anxiety clinics

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Registered address: 66 Botley Rd, Park Gate, Southampton SO31 1EB


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