When I get stressed, when the pulse beats faster and the thoughts start to spin, then I go out into the woods. I can hike for hours, just be, enjoying the scent of pine needles and the song of the birds.
I go slowly to be able to capture all the impressions and try to widen my field of view, as I often end up in tunnelvision when I’m stressed. When I walk slowly, I usually discover things in nature that amaze me, drops that glitter from the branches of the fir trees, ice crystals in frozen streams that look like diamonds, the first beautiful spring flowers, or the orchids Forrest Wife and Virgin Mary which are protected and must be studied at place.
I feel that I am part of something bigger, and my own problems are shrinking. I raise my hands to the sky, breathe deeply and smile, and feel the energy begin to replenish my body.
During my walk, I go where my nose points, or rather where my stomach and heart want. I practice my intuition, and my ability to feel what’s best for me. When I find a glade soaked in sunbeams, I lay down on a stump or lie down on a tree trunk. There I remain with my eyes closed, listening to all the sounds of the forest.
Half an hour later, I open my lunch bag and put my teeth in a freshly baked bun and drink a hot cup of chocolate. When I have eaten up, I pack up and go home.
The head is cleansed and clear and the body is energetic. I’m already longing for the next forest bath.
My daily forest baths for several years are the main reason I recovered from my fatigue syndrome. My doctor recommended me this, but then I couldn’t imagine what a crucial difference it would make.
It’s pure magic.
5 tips on a perfect forest bath
1. Look for a forest or grove.
2. Turn off your phone.
3. Walk slowly forward.
4. Explore every glade, feel the tree trunks, smell the flowers, listen to the birds.
5. When you find a place that feels good, sit on a stump, or lie down on a tree trunk. Close your eyes. Stay for 20 minutes. Just be, or meditate if you like.
The forest will heal you
The term forest bath, shinrin-yoku, was invented in Japan in the 1970s when many people died stressed and worked out. There are 50 forest baths in Japan, where a forest therapist guides the visitor. Modern, stressed contemporary people go to the forest to regain their health. In Japan, a forest walk is seen as a treatment and given by prescription.
Well-documented research shows that forest bathing is curative. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated and both the heart rate and blood pressure drops, and the stress goes down radically. Depression and anxiety are alleviated, and cognitive abilities and concentration are improved. In addition, the immune system is strengthened as the chemicals of the trees, phytoncider, increase the body’s natural killer cells. If you spend a day in the forest, your killer cells in the blood will increase by 40 percent. The forest air also increases the production of DHEA in the adrenal cortex. It is a substance that protects us from heart attack. Forest baths have also been shown to have a preventive and combative effect against cancer.
In Sweden we have a unique opportunity to swim in the forest because we have our right of common. It’s just going straight out into the woods for us, which is not obvious in other parts of the world.
Best of all – you don’t need a swimsuit!
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