Updated: May 20, 2019
Bear Brook State Park, New Hampshire
I always love knowing the health benefits of why I'm doing something: that's the wellness geek in me, can you relate? It turns out there are so many more benefits to spending time outdoors in nature, that go far beyond the physical benefits. Many of us are going on walks in the woods to relieve stress, also known as forest bathing.
When I was on my recent refuge at Getaway in New Hampshire, here's what their guidebook had to say about forest bathing:
"The term forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, was coined in 1983 by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. It describes the therapeutic practice of spending time in nature. According to Qi Ling, the major researcher of the effect of forest bathing on the immune system: 'If you have time for a vacation, don't go to a city. Go to a natural area. Try to go one weekend a month. Visit a park at least once a week... on urban walks, try to walk under trees, not across fields.'"
"Reward for challenge: Lower blood pressure, lower heart rate and lower cortisol levels, all without a prescription"
Forest bathing is part of Japan's national health program (and has been since 1982), and it's been scientifically researched ever since, with millions of dollars being invested. Some of the documented benefits have been lowered blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and stress hormones.
"I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least - and it is commonly more than that - sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements."
- Henry David Thoreau
An EPA study found that Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some air pollutants can be 2 times to 5 times higher than outdoors. I've spoken about this in our Green Cleaning with Essential Oils Workshop on the importance of using natural non-toxic products to clean inside our homes. Going outside helps us to detox!
Urbanization is growing each year, with people flocking to cities for more opportunities, culture and community. I did the same through the years of 2014 to 2017, when I lived in the center of London and then New York City. My health took a huge toll on all levels during the time I lived there, I developed anxiety, adrenal fatigue and depression, and I experienced frequent stress-based illnesses and infections that required many hospital visits.
In living in these environments though, I realized we have a primal need to be close to nature. Our well-being literally depends on it. Now that I live in Brighton on the outskirts of Boston, I'm close to parks and forests and my overall well-being is so much more balanced.
Since becoming aware of the additional mental, emotional, spiritual health benefits of walking outside in the woods, it's gotten me to go outside more!
Even though I live in a metropolitan area of Boston and there are many cold months here in New England, I get bundled up and head over to the nearest park and woods.
Since I started meditating more and using essential oils last year, it made me realize that I didn't need the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication anymore that I had been taking for over a year when I lived in the city. I could feel balanced using these tools, including nature, which we take so much for granted. Now I've added forest bathing, and I realize I always experience a significant drop in anxiety after.
According to NPR, "Forest bathing reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. The book (Forest Bathing by Qi Ling) lists studies that consistently show a substantial reduction of stress hormones. Essential tree oils, such as phytoncides found in forest air (pine trees and cypress tend to be the richest), increase energy levels by more than 30 percent. Aromatherapy enthusiasts know well that such tree oils conjure a general state of well-being, capturing the essence of forest bathing. There is improvement in sleep (an average increase by 15 percent after a two-hour forest walk), a boost of the immune system and in cardiovascular health, and better parasympathetic response (rest-and-recover)."
These are the woody essential oils that keep us grounded and peaceful, the same way trees in the woods do:
Balance Grounding Blend
Forgive Renewing Blend
Try forest bathing and using tree based essential oils to support your whole self: mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Which of these woody oils do you love to use? Leave a comment!
If you'd like to get started with your own woody doTERRA oil, head here!
If you'd like my support in discovering what natural solutions you can use to support your wellness, I want to guide you! We have a thriving international wellness community of almost 200 people that are using their essential oils to manage their holistic wellness. Schedule your free 20 minute connection call here!
*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.