At Herb Culture we're really keen to explore alternative ways to relieve anxiety and boost mental wellbeing. Lots of people we've spoken to rely on medication for depression, which when taken regularly requires a higher and higher dosage, leading to a stressful cycle they're unable to break.
I've been hearing about Forest Bathing a lot lately, and how it can really help connect you to nature, but more importantly with yourself. Recent studies in Japan show that a day-long session of forest bathing demonstrated significant positive results in mental wellbeing, especially in those with depression. I spoke to Lindsey at Dorset Forest Bathing to find out more, and she's given us her top tips on connecting with nature in order to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
Forest bathing, and being connected to nature in general is proven to be incredibly beneficial for our emotions and physical health as well as improving sleep and immune system.
Forest bathing is all about immersing yourself in a woodland environment and benefiting from being close to trees; but spending time in any wild natural place away from lots of other people will be beneficial if you can’t access a wood. Just follow these simple guidelines to fully embrace the experience.
1. Switch of your phone. There are scary statistics around screen time, technology addictions and the need to be checking social media. Take some time out from your devices and dedicate time to being on your own in nature.
2. Think like a child - children don’t need an invitation to explore, climb on things, smell things, touch things... so try to remember what it felt like to be a child. Go off the path, hide away among trees, get your feet wet in puddles- something that gets you closer to and connected to your environment.
3. Sit on the ground, or even better lie down (you may need a blanket for this). When was the last time you sat on the ground for a while? It may feel strange but being close to the earth is incredibly grounding and electrical charges from the earth can have positive effects on your body. If you are under trees then staring up at the canopy is incredibly relaxing.
4. Barefoot walking, again, it’s very grounding but it also makes us feel a bit excitable, a bit naughty like we’re doing something strange, and if you’re having a fun experience in nature then you’re likely to keep wanting to back and try more and develop your relationship with that location.
5. Deep breaths. Our breathing automatically slows when we spend time in nature, our heart rate lowers and blood pressure reduces. Take some deep breaths and notice your surroundings.
6. Choose one of your senses and focus solely on that for 10 minutes or so. If sight for example try to notice all the movement around you, the shapes and shadows, the patterns in nature, all the many shades of green... once you start you may realise you need more than 10 minutes!
7. Really get to know one place- the more you visit at different times of day and seasons, the more you will learn, and learn to love. The more you love the more you will take ownership of the area and care about it, and encourage others to appreciate the little things in nature. All together an enriching experience.
Thanks again to Lindsey for her top tips, just reading through them have made me feel calmer! If you're in Dorset, or planning a trip, more information on Dorset Forest Bathing can be found here.