Forest bath: antidote to stress

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Robert Maurer

Forest bath: antidote to stress

Last update: April 19, 2017

Stress has become a silent enemy lurking everywhere. Big cities produce this above all: distressed people. Urban life itself sometimes causes tension simply by passing through the streets. The bombardment of stimuli can be so great that it puts stress on any individual.

Our senses are also affected by stress. For example, it is more difficult for us to distinguish smells due to environmental pollution and the same happens with sounds. In any main street in a city, the noise levels are so high that you have to turn up the volume to speak and pay particular attention to be able to hear your interlocutor.

“Without well-being, life is not life; it's just a state of languor and suffering ”.

-François Rabelais-

The same happens with the other senses. We close our eyes or look down so as not to get confused. Worse still: we don't savor what we eat since running always prevents us from doing so. For some, lunchtime is even a waste of time. And as for the touch, we are aware of being more and more insensitive to the palpation and exploration of what surrounds us?

We give a wrong meaning to the term "free time". A lot of people think it means doing nothing. For this reason, when we have time at our disposal, we waste it in front of the TV, a video game or a computer screen. In this way, we immerse ourselves in a reality foreign to us and, without realizing it, we become prisoners of stress.

Does nature help us fight stress?

The answer to this question is undoubtedly yes. Nowadays, among the advice of some doctors there is the search for contact with nature. Think about country walks; you have certainly noticed that once away from the city, everything changes. The smells, sounds and landscapes are different. The senses seem to awaken and we perceive what we ignore in routine.

However, far beyond the simple contact with nature, there is one very effective technique aimed at counteracting stress: forest baths. This technique originated in Japan, a country that has one of the most developed economies in the world. At the same time, however, it has high rates of suicide among adolescents and diseases (including fatal ones) among the population due to overwork.

This technique consists in rediscovering nature, be it a forest or open countryside. The idea is to relax, put aside the chaos in which we are immersed on a daily basis and, in this way, reduce the levels of stress so that we can manage it better. You must think that walking in a natural setting means establishing a break with various stimuli that cause us anguish.

Benefits of the forest bath

The greatest benefit offered to us by the forest bath is the disconnection with the universe through nature and the consequent removal from stress. Forest baths (whose Japanese name is Shinrin Yoku) can also take place in other ways, not just walking. If you want, you can hug a tree and exchange your negative vibrations with the positive ones offered by the branches and trunk of the tree or you can drink an infusion of aromatic plants that makes us relax.

Nature helps to see the world from another perspective. If we are stressed, part of our brain is overloaded. Forest baths reduce brain activity that leads us to make decisions and solve problems. Conversely, it activates the areas associated with emotions, pleasure and creativity.

In order for a forest bath to be able to reduce our stress, it is necessary to dedicate sufficient time to it. No rushing. Remember that you must take advantage of the benefits that contact with nature offers us. Benefits that can only be obtained by paying attention to every step we take. Among other things, remember that it is also possible to meditate while walking: it is enough to stay alert and keep the senses awake.

Dedicating ourselves to gaining positive energy does not involve money or effort. It is enough to open the mind and the heart. Recognize that we are part of the universe. We all fulfill a function, we are interconnected and every decision we make has repercussions on the surrounding environment. If we want peace of mind, health and spiritual growth, we need to start getting in touch with nature again.

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