What is any easy way of topping-up your wellbeing?
If we don’t get our fix of Vitamin N then this can lead to a nature deficit disorder.
Now more than ever, children need to get out and enjoy being in nature. Lockdown lives have meant many of us, but especially children, spending far too much time indoors.
I’ve written before about whether you are an innie or an outie and it seems that most of are pandemic inmates.
Obviously we have restrictions and rules to follow but we are still allowed to venture out and if this means we live near a park then get out!
Markwell and Gladwell (2020) have written about the importance of ‘bathing’ in nature, specifically in woods and forests.
They draw our attention to ‘Shinrin-yoku’ as a way of combatting stress and boosting our wellbeing as a cost-effective and effective way of coping and supporting our mental health.
Shinrin-yoku is the opposite of being an innie and being separated from nature – this is about immersion in forests/woodlands.
Forestry England define it as
This Japanese practice is a process of relaxation; known in Japan as shinrin yoku. The simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply can help both adults and children de-stress and boost health and wellbeing in a natural way.
We can access nature digitally if we can’t travel to a woodland or forest as we aren’t all close to one or even permitted to go beyond our locality for exercise.
But does the actual experience of forest bathing beat digital bathing in nature?
It sure does.
Markwell and Gladwell compared two groups. One group took part in 4 hourly long sessions on consecutive weeks immersed in real woodland and another Shinrin-yoku group were digital and were sent links to an hour-long forest video session once a week for 4 consecutive weeks. They found
Actual Shinrin-yoku was found to increase positive affect and well-being significantly more than the digital Shinrin-yoku condition. This significant difference for positive affect between the two conditions remained at the 1-month follow-up.
Their results are perhaps not surprising as you simply can’t beat being in the outdoors. It is refreshing, it blows away the cobwebs, it inspires and it injects you with the feel-good factor.
Being in nature really does do you the power of good because it alleviates stressful conditions such as tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and it improves a person’s vigour, vitality and enhances your life energy.
Lockdown lives are unhappy for many but the act of getting out and ‘bathing’ in nature is vital to gain a sense of wellbeing and perspective. We all need to play outside.
The National Trust remind us that “Forest bathing is no more complicated than simply going for a wander in your local woods or park.”
It’s that simple.
As the Forest Bathing Institute says,
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for nature based therapy. Not just to heal those affected physically and mentally but also as preventative healthcare.
Being in nature and bathing in it means you can lose yourself, forget about time and focus on not much else except the present moment.