Following two years of movement restrictions post pandemic, months of relentless rain here in South East Queensland/Northern NSW and now as we head into winter, most of us are suffering from too much time spent indoors.
The Japanese concept of Forest Bathing is perfect for those times you feel overwhelmed by life. To immerse yourself in nature, even briefly, has a range of psychological and physiological benefits. One study, conducted by Japan’s Chiba University, found that people who took part in forest bathing for 30 minutes had lower concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol, a lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure. In another study, published in Public Health journal, researchers found that people who had engaged in forest bathing had significantly reduced hostility and depression scores. Forest therapy can be a cure for people of all ages and a whole catalogue of modern ills – including too much screen time, overwork, consumerism and loneliness.
Spending time outdoors is a great benefit to your mental health, getting out into a national park for a hike is first prize, however even gardening, a quick walk by a beach close to home, a reserve, through a city park or stopping to lounge under a tree wherever you are brings down the volume of life, and helps to recalibrate your energy. The simple keys to making the most of time in nature are to slow down, walk barefoot if possible, watch the clouds and birds fly by, stop to ‘smell the roses’, and tune into nature with all of your senses.
Before of defaulting to your GP for a pill, perhaps consider instead a “Green Prescription” from nature. The nature cure is so powerful! One of the fastest and easiest ways to change your physical and emotional state is to get some exercise, sunshine and fresh air. Getting out in the sunshine, mixing up your hormonal chemistry with some activity, and just being in nature can change the outlook on your entire day. This type of complementary treatment to whatever else you may require is a great way to give yourself the best opportunity for physical and mental wellbeing.