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Forest Therapy

It seems obvious that getting outside into nature can have a positive impact on our health. But did you know that it can significantly impact physiological and mental functions of the body?

The term “Forest Therapy” has been used to describe the action of being immersed in nature. Many researchers have found some astoundingly positive impacts of this simple act.

Forest Therapy has been shown to:

  • decrease stress, depression, anxiety, and anger levels
  • decrease cortisol levels
  • decrease nervous activity
  • decrease blood pressure
  • decrease heart rate
  • enhance relaxation
  • improve immune function
  • Improved attention

Ways to incorporate nature into your life.

As you can seen from the benefits above, it is well and truly worthwhile to get your dose of nature. Currently, with our busy modern lifestyles and urbanisation it can be difficult to firstly find the time to enjoy nature, and secondly find a suitable setting. So here are some tips:

  • Go for hikes or bushwalks on the weekend – make a promise to get out into some form of nature at least once a day on the weekend.
  • Walk barefoot in the park – most suburbs and even cities have parks, so get out and about, take your shoes off and walk on the grass-barefoot, you will feel the difference.
  • Take your dog for a walk – not only can you improve your wellbeing, but your fury friend will also benefit.
  • Go for a walk in your lunch break – instead of sitting inside for your lunch break, go for a walk and find a nice spot to have your lunch outside.
  • Listen to nature sounds – it has been shown that listening to nature sounds for just 3-mins can enhance mood.
  • Use essential oils – it has been shown that the smell of nature has a hand in improving mood and heart rate.
  • Open curtains and windows – exposure to natural light helps improve mood and regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm (body’s response to day and night).

How to maximise nature experiences

  • Pay attention to all your senses - what do you see, what do you hear, what can you feel, how do you feel inside? This way you get the most out of the experience and reap the benefits.
  • Don’t look at your phone – this can distract you and can take away from the experience.

 

References:

  1. Miyazaki Y, Ikei H, Song C, 2014, 10-2 Forest therapy and preventative medical effect, The Journal of The Japanese Society of Balneology, Climatology and Physical Medicine, Volume 77, issue 5, pg 498-499. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/onki/77/5/77_498/_pdf/-char/en
  2. H Ochiai, H Ikei, C Song, M Kobayashi, T Miura, T Kagawa, Q Li, S Kumeda, M Imai, and Y Miyazaki, 2015, Physiological and Psychological Effects of a Forest Therapy Program on Middle-Aged Females, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. file://ns-fps/RedirectedFolders/techreg/Downloads/Physiological_and_Psychologica.pdf
  3. Yeh H, 2017, Physical, Psychological and Emotional Effects of Nature-Based Affordances of Green Physical Activity, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom). https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/docview/2035748279/?pq-origsite=primo

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