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Table of Contents
Forest bathing. An old tradition rediscovered
7 steps for your forest bath or tree bath
Forest bathing in cities
Doctor Forest
Additional information

In this article you will learn the most important information about forest bathing and how you can use the beneficial and health-promoting powers of trees for yourself. I myself love the topic of forest bathing and tree bathing because it combines two of the most important topics in my life: trees and health. In addition to working for the trees, I also work as Body therapist.
At the end of this article you will find a link for a soothing acoustic forest bath, a book recommendation and helpful further links. 

Forest bathing. An old tradition rediscovered

The term forest bathing is from the Japanese term Shinrin Yoku derived. More precisely translated means Shinrin Yoku: Breathe in the forest atmosphere or immerse yourself in the forest atmosphere. Forest bathing therefore means: taking in the forest atmosphere with all your senses, consciously spending time in the forest in order to recover physically and mentally and to strengthen your own health. There are different methods and approaches for forest bathing: from simple walks to specific exercises, for example with Qi Gong, meditation or yoga.

The oldest recorded source for forest bathing comes from China and is 2.500 years old. Under the term Senlinyu physical exercises in the forest aimed at absorbing the forest's energy. The Japanese term Shinrin Yoku was introduced in 1982 by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries. In 2004 this ministry established its own research center to study the therapeutic effect of forests. Meanwhile is Shinrin Yoku world-famous and especially in Japan an integral part of the health care system.

Here in Europe, the term forest bathing was especially developed by a certain, large-scale Japanese Study known from 2008.
The results of this study show that forest bathing has the following measurable effects on human physiology:

  • lower concentration of cortisol
  • low pulse
  • lower blood pressure
  • more parasympathetic activation and at the same time
  • lower sympathetic activation of the nervous system.

On a psychological level, the study showed that forest bathing has a positive effect on tension, depression, anger, fatigue and confusion.

7 steps for your forest bath or tree bath

Here are the most important tips on how you can benefit from the health-promoting powers of trees:

  • Go to a forest, a park, or your favorite tree.
  • Take your time and consciously take a break from your smartphone.
  • To do this, orientate yourself on the trees and their presence.
  • What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you see?
  • Try to slow down internally and feel your grounding.
  • If you like, you can also do yoga, sit under a tree, or talk to him. You can also draw, read a book, or lie down.
  • And then stay there for a while. The more trees there are, the better.

Forest bathing in cities

The good news for city dwellers: forest bathing is not only possible in vast, remote forests and untouched nature. Forest bathing also works in cities - as long as there are parks, green corridors or forest areas on the outskirts. We could insert the term tree bathing for this activity. The Japanese study cited above also suggests that not only forests can achieve this health-promoting effect, but also other green environments.

Another Study documents that it is particularly health-promoting for urban people to consciously move to a different environment for a while that is less affected by emissions and noise. The health-promoting effect of trees and greenery can help these people in particular to escape the modern stress of everyday life for a while and to consciously tune into nature. And yet another study from Canada shows that just the presence of trees in a neighborhood can improve our health. You can find out more about this in our article about the healing power of trees.


Doctor Forest

Here is another poem by forester Helmut Dagenbach, written in 1986.

When I suffer from headaches and neuroses,
I feel misunderstood or old,
and the lovely muses don't caress me,
then I consult Doctor Wald.
He is my ophthalmologist and psychiatrist,
my orthopedist and my internist.
He's sure to help me with any hangover,
whether it is from sorrow or cognac.
He doesn't think much of pills and powders,
but all the more from air and sunshine.
And as soon as I am surrounded by pleasant silence,
he whispers to me: “Now take a deep breath!”
His practice is often overcrowded,
In his care you get well.
And circulatory sufferers who are still wheezing today,
are tomorrow without clinical findings.
He always gets us back on our feet,
the mental into balance,
prevents fat buildup and gallstones.
Unfortunately, he doesn't make home visits.

Additional information

If you can't always arrange to go out into nature due to time, organization or other reasons, guided or musical meditation trips can help you put yourself in a state of connection with yourself and nature. Because we found this forest music particularly beautiful, here is a link so that you too can bring an acoustic forest bath home.

There are already numerous publications on the subject of forest bathing and the healing effects of trees. If you are interested in the topic, we can recommend the following book: The Biophilia Effect: healing from the forest by Clemens Arvay. 

Forest bathing has also become more and more established at an institutional level. There is now one in Germany Federal Forest Bathing Association, which is dedicated to the topic of nature conservation and health.

The way food is International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine is dedicated to the healing effects of nature on us humans. A wide-ranging program is offered on their website, including a long list of publications relating to forest bathing and the positive effects of nature on human health.

Andrew Hunkeler
Graduated social and cultural anthropologist with a focus on sustainable and participatory green space design in cities.
My vision is to bring together: people and trees, nature and culture, population and urban authorities.
If you have any questions, suggestions, interesting stories or exciting knowledge on this topic, please feel free to write to me: I'm looking forward to your message!

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