Forest bathing is a slow and mindful walk in the woods, opening up all your senses and slowing down your mind. It is an immersive experience, noticing the sights, sounds, smell and textures of the forest. It is a way to destress, relax and boost health and wellbeing. Francesca from Roots for the Future is now a certified forest bathing guide, having trained with the forest bathing institude and is keen to show you the multiple benefits of spending dedicated, mindful time amongst trees.
In the coming months we will have a number of different options for people to try forest bathing, from corporate events to funded sessions for people suffering with poor mental and physical health. On these sessions we will take a slow walk through woodland with sensory activities to help you unwind and connect with the natural environment to boost your mental and physical health. There is a focus on slow, deep, mindful breathing throughout, with a guided meditation at the end.
On a two to three hour guided session, you will notice things you have never noticed before. You may notice much more birdsong or the sound of the leaves crunching under your feet. You might spend a happy 10 minutes squelching slowly through wet mud. Have you ever dug a hole in the earth and had a good sniff of the soil? Smell has an evocative power, strongly connected to memories and emotions. The various smells of the forest can be both familiar and new discoveries.
Apart from it being a beautiful and relaxing experience, the best part is that forest bathing is scientifically proven to make us feel better. Trees emit a chemical compound that when we breathe in, has many health benefits. Research shows that breathing in the compound, Phytoncide, whilst forest bathing, regulates heart rate, blood pressure, boosts immunity and releases happy endorphins. It improves mental wellbeing with participants citing that they had fewer negative thoughts and less rumination during and after sessions.
Winter, spring, summer and autumn, the forest has so much goodness for us to soak up through our senses. We have run sessions in the pooring rain and the blazing sunshine. As long as you are well equipped with the right footwear and clothing, it is an all weather activity.
Roots for the Future was founded as an environmental social enterprise offering communities practical ways to get involved in tackling the the climate crisis. Over the last few years, we have started to additionally focus on the relationship between the health of planet and human health. During the pandemic, when the lockdowns coincided with the tree planting seasons, we thought about ways we could be useful in the health crisis as well as the climate crisis. We started leading guided tree walks with elements of forest bathing which led us to becoming a certified forest bathing organisation.
Eco-therapies, such as forest bathing and mindfulness in nature, can be life changing. A Natural England report on natural environments and mental health states that nature connectedness is positively associated with benefiting wellbeing, and therapies in green spaces are associated with a lower likelihood of using medication for depression. Studies show that exposure to woodland may be the most beneficial type of natural environment for mental health support.
For Roots for the Future, we hope that by focusing more on the health benefits of trees, horticulture and enjoying nature, the people we engage will feel more inspired to protect the natural environment when they know how beneficial it is to us as humans. To quote Sir David Attenborough: “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”
Get in touch today to find out how you can experience forest bathing and mindfulness in nature with Roots for the Future.