Forest Bathing: Why We Love This Practice + How To Do It (Even Without a Forest)
Feeling drained with the busyness of life lately?
As the holiday season is in full swing and our calendars are filling up, it’s important to make time for intentional stillness and wellness practices. The practice of forest bathing is an excellent way to refresh + spend time soaking in the healing power of nature.
And before you say “Well, I’m not really an outdoorsy person” – you don’t need to be!
The great news is, there are plenty of ways to enjoy and practice forest bathing – without a ton of outdoorsy gear and extensive exercise regimens. And one of the biggest misconceptions at first glance: forest bathing is only called “bathing” because it’s a practice of immersing yourself into the gentle healing power of nature.
It’s about soaking in all the senses: sound, touch, smell, or sight – no outdoor bathtubs involved. Maybe it’s a contemplative walk along a quiet trail, or maybe it’s laying a blanket down in an inviting space to practice stillness.
Why do it? This Japanese meditative practice is insanely relaxing, restorative, AND proven to boost many important health biomarkers. Forest bathing is the perfect way to support overall well-being, which we know in turn supports beauty.
Forest bathing could be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Forest Bathing: Origins
The concept of forest bathing (as an intentional action) started in Japan in the 1980s. The Japanese named it shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”).
No matter how you do it, forest bathing has one focus: being present in nature with all of your senses.
It’s about letting your mind “rest.” It’s about learning how to take in the relaxing sounds, scents, and imagery to come out better on the “other side.”
This practice has been deemed “ecotherapy” by many because of the positive influence nature has on the human body + mind. We personally love forest bathing because it aligns with our belief that nature is healing.
Here at Primally Pure, we try to lean on our ancestors for wisdom whenever we can. There’s a reason they utilized the simplicity of nature’s resources. They understood the healing powers that were (and are) free to all.
Forest bathing proved so impactful after its initial start in Japan in the 1980s, that in 1982 Japan made it part of its national health program.1 Today, forest bathing is popular around the world.
But really, forest bathing is nothing new.
Forest bathing has always existed/been accessible to us.
It’s just more recently been named + acknowledged as a specific practice. That’s probably due to the large body of evidence and scientific studies (don’t worry we’ll cover those). Forest bathing benefits for your physical and mental health have been proven time and again.
Forest Bathing Benefits
Have you ever considered that most “meditative” or “white noise” sounds are made of nature’s sounds?
As humans, we have an innate connection to nature – from birth. So it’s no wonder that there are plenty of proven forest bathing benefits to experience yourself.
We loved this quote from a forest bathing review:2
“When one ponders humans existing less than 0.01% of the species’ history in modern surroundings and the other 99.99% of the time living in nature, it is no wonder some humans yearn and are drawn back to where human physiological/psychological functions began and were naturally supported.”
It just makes sense, doesn’t it? Our species has spent the large majority of our existence living IN nature – aka in harmony with the earth. So it’s no wonder we’re drawn back to our roots.
Here are all the forest bathing benefits you can experience yourself:
- Improved health biomarkers like:3
- Lower concentrations of cortisol
- Slower pulse rate
- Better blood pressure
- Greater parasympathetic (calming) nerve activity
- Lower sympathetic (fight or flight) nerve activity
- Increased NK activity in the body: Natural killer (NK) cells help your immune system and cancer-killing capabilities.4 Increased NK activity after forest exposure lasts for more than a week!
- Decreases adrenaline flow:5 Less adrenaline lowers stress levels throughout the body for a clearer mind and more balanced hormones.
- Exposure to phytoncides: These are airborne chemical compounds that provide protection to trees and other plants. When we absorb these same chemical compounds through our olfactory glands, they can also help us fight diseases and increase immune function. These benefits are even said to last for days after a single outing.6
- Positive impact on mood, anxiety, and your nervous system: Time spent in a forest environment is shown to positively impact:7
- Pulse rate
- Blood pressure
Numerous studies have shown that the forest atmosphere contains FAR more benefits than a city atmosphere.5 Are you sold on forest bathing yet?
Don’t worry if it’s too cold to get outside much where you live – or you don’t live near a forest. Here’s how to experience all the forest bathing benefits, even if you can’t make it to an actual forest.
How to Practice Forest Bathing
Maybe forest bathing sounds pretty self-explanatory to you, or maybe you’re looking for a little more specific guidance.
Either way, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at some tangible ways you can incorporate forest bathing into your everyday life – even if you can’t get outside physically.
Forest Bathing in the Traditional Sense
Get away from the noise.
Turn off technology – or leave it at home.
It doesn’t have to be perfectly secluded. You may just need to choose a quieter time of day if you’re not totally secluded.
Take it in.
Experience all sensations in a meditative state as you journey through nature. Take a gentle stroll, stopping as much as you’d like. Whatever feels best to you.
Touch, smell, and listen to the forest.
Or maybe just sit solo and soak up the power of stillness.
Tip: Be barefoot if you can.
The practice of “grounding” provides even more benefits like:8
- Transferring electrons to the ground
- Clearing out energy
- Gaining energy
- Stress relief
- Dramatically decreasing inflammation
Do it whenever you can!
There’s no such thing as “too much of a good thing” here. Practice forest bathing every chance you get! Plenty of studies show that whether you can spend a short or long time forest bathing, it’ll be beneficial.
How to Enjoy Forest Bathing From Anywhere
Here’s the thing: life is busy. You don’t always have time to just simply go find a forest, right? Thankfully, there are so many products and experiences available that allow you to experience many of the same effects of forest bathing at home.
If you're looking for a one-stop shop, our Crispy Smoky Woods Line includes an entire collection of home products dedicated to this particular feeling of forest bathing.
The scents (and benefits) of the forest were our inspiration for the Crisp Smoky Woods collection. Did you know many of these aromas hold power on their own, as an essential oil?
Here are just a few of the beneficial aromas you’ll find in our unique product line:
- Silver Fir: A fresh, pine aroma that warms the body, softens tension, and supports your respiratory health for overall wellness.
- Cedarwood: This rich, woodsy oil balances the nervous system with a deep sense of grounding to enhance your emotional well-being.
- Bay laurel: A sweet + soothing botanical that preserves immunity and protects against illnesses with its antiviral properties.
- Tobacco: A warming, smoky aroma that alleviates your stress and supports a deep calming sense.
These oils let you soak in many of the same forest bathing benefits from anywhere your heart desires.
Our scents come in various products to fit into your favorite way to embrace forest bathing benefits when you can't make it to the forest. Here are a few of our favorites:
→ Crisp Smoky Woods Essential Oil
Take a forest bathing break at lunch with a handheld diffuser or dilute with your favorite carrier oil for a roll-on. Another great time to use this is after a stressful day. Diffuse in your house when it’s too cold to get outside.
→ Crisp Smoky Woods Candle
Similar to the essential oil blend, this is a great option for at home or at work. Perfect for when it’s just too cold to get outside into the forest (or maybe it’s not accessible where you live during the winter). Plus, you’ll immediately be wrapped in all the cozy vibes with a warm flicker.
→ Crisp Smoky Woods Hand Soap
Create an indulgent experience with a forest bathing scent for all your bathroom breaks (or kitchen shifts) throughout the day.
→ Crisp Smoky Woods Room Spray
For on-demand scents that reminisce forest bathing’s healing power, keep this room spray on hand. Use it to wind down at night or in the middle of a stressful day. Just spritz and take a few deep cleansing breaths.
And we’d be remiss to not mention one of our favorite ways to bring the healing power of nature into your life – bring living plants indoors. Plants are known to absorb toxins, purify the air, and create a sense of comfort and well-being.9 So stock up this winter.
See? Regardless of whether you have easy access to nature or not, you can still access many of these forest bathing benefits for yourself through your sense of smell.
Our Thoughts on Forest Bathing
Forest bathing is an excellent way to bring the holiday season inside this winter. With so many ways to practice the art of forest bathing, it’s an inclusive activity that can work for anyone and everyone.
You don’t have to be a nature lover or a hippie with tons of meditation under your belt. This is all about immersing yourself in nature, for the sake of letting its healing powers work their magic.
Some even think forest bathing will become a preventative measure of care in the future.
Either way, we’re hopping on this train and never getting off!
- Global Wellness Institute | Forest Bathing Spotlight
- National Library of Medicine | Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review
- National Library of Medicine | The Physiological Effects of Shinrin-Yoku (Taking in the Forest Atmosphere or Forest Bathing): Evidence From Field Experiments in 24 Forests Across Japan
- British Society for Immunology | Natural Killer Cells
- National Library of Medicine | Visiting a Forest, but Not a City, Increases Human Natural Killer Activity and Expression of Anti-cancer Proteins
- Ecotherapy Heals | What Are Phytoncides? How the Scent of the Forest Can Boost Your Immune System
- National Library of Medicine | Effects of Short Forest Bathing Program on Autonomic Nervous System Activity and Mood States in Middle-Aged and Elderly Individuals
- Vox Nature | Grounding: The Power of Walking Barefoot
- National Library of Medicine | The Basic Roles of Indoor Plants in Human Health and Comfort
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