Forest Bathing for Campers
Dave Johnson | On 07, Sep 2013
What’s forest bathing do I hear you ask? Quite simply it’s a Japanese practice called Shinrin-yoku (Sanlimyok in Korean) that involves visiting forests for recreation and relaxation. It’s claimed that breathing in air laden with wood essential oils (antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees, such as a-pinene and limonene) has beneficial health effects and helps to reduce the stress caused by our busy lives.
Quing Li is president of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine (established in 2007) and is an assistant professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo. Dr. Li has been studying the effects of forest bathing on stress levels, mood and the immune system and the findings are quite astonishing. It seems that forest bathing may prevent the onset of chronic illnesses and reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Indeed, one of the studies of mood states showed that forest bathing led to decreased levels of anxiety, depression and anger while immune function studies showed a significant increase in immune system activity.
Forests make up more than 60% of Japan’s land mass and forest bathing has become a popular stress busting activity in Japan. Dr. Li claims that forest bathing is possible anywhere in the world that there is tree canopy cover of more than 10%. This is great news for campers in the UK who might want to try their hand at forest bathing. With so many UK and European campsites surrounded by forest, a camping trip can now become a life-changing experience.
Forest bathing is all about taking it easy in the forest rather than hiking through the trees at a rate of knots. It’s recommended that you enjoy the forest through all five senses, listen to the bird song and the wind rustling through the trees. Breathe in the fragrances of the forest, the greenery and the damp woodland smells.
Find a spot that makes you feel comfortable and sit and relax for a couple of hours, you’ll probably find yourself entering a meditative state while the magic of the forest banishes your every day worries, leaving you feeling calm and relaxed.