Can you feel how the energy in a wood is unlike that of the urban ‘jungle’? Do you feel different when you are in nature: more calm and more embodied? Perhaps you’ve noticed that your breathing slows, your thoughts are less scattered?
If so, you are not inventing things. Because it has been scientifically proven that being around ‘greenery’ (in any form) reduces the risk of depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, stress and many other scourges of our modern lives.
Not surprising really given that we are animals at heart. But we seem to forget this and then wonder why we feel like we do when we have been deprived of Nature: cooped up indoors, immobile in front of our computer screens with little natural light, central heating and no expansive outdoor vista.
Which is why “shinrin yoku” or forest bathing is where it’s at for many of us over-civilised, urban dwellers. This Japanese therapy was developed in the 1980s and is so well regarded as a preventative healthcare treatment that it now even has its own dot org.
I try to practise shinrin yoku (sounds more impressive when you say it in Japanese), at least once a week to de-stress, clear my mind and reconnect to my ‘higher self’ or what I also call my ‘whole woman’ – the one lurking behind the mama, daughter, partner, yogini, solopreneur, superwoman masks. The part of me that is tuned into Nature, to my instinctual self, to my body. She who is wise, unflappable, endlessly patient and trusting; an objective observer of my monkey-mind.
And it works! The mountainous issues on my radar shrink back to manageable molehills, the urgency of deadlines falls by the way side, and pleasure – bit by bit – takes over the need to perform.
In a forest, I can be unashamedly myself. There is no judgement so I judge myself less. Trees never fail to reset my hard drive and remind me of what (rather than who) I am.
Why don’t you try it for yourself? The spectacular autumnal show that is put on for us at this time of year when the Earth’s seasonal cycle turns to releasing and death (a bit dramatic but that’s the truth of it) is the perfect excuse to go for a Nature walk. And if you really can’t face leaving home, try hanging out next to a potted plant or staring out of a window at some nearby greenery. Even a patch of grass will do.
We all need regular self-care boosts in life and this is probably one of the easiest to implement and maintain.
Green is the new black…