Are you wondering how to reduce stress and anxiety? Try “forest bathing.”

 

Forest bathing is a therapeutic type of “moving meditation” which is popular in Japan and has recently caught on in the U.S. In fact, in 2013, North America got its own chapter of the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine.

 

Doctors have started writing .” More than 20 forest therapy programs now exist across 13 states.

 

Here’s the idea. Research shows spending quiet time with foliage in a state of heightened awareness can reduce stress and anxiety by helping to get rid of negative thoughts.

 

Mindfully immersing ourselves in nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Appreciating nature may also strengthen our immune systems.

 

How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety by Forest Bathing

Gemma Hartley recently shared her initiation into this calming technique. She suffers from depression and anxiety and was looking for something other than the tried-and-true meditation solution.

 

Solo Forest Bathing

 

First, she tried a solo excursion into the woods. “I followed a small wooded trail, trying to get into mindful forest bathing mode and remembering what I’d learned from forest bathing guru Ben Page, founder of Shinrin Yoku L.A.: “Our ancestors recognized the importance being in nature has for health and well-being,” he told me. “That’s a feeling we don’t get anymore—now, we think of nature only for its aesthetic qualities. But there is something incredibly calming about being under the canopy.”

 

With that in mind, Gemma “made a focused effort to listen to chirping birds, notice the heavy air, take in the Oz-ian green carpeting everything around me—and I felt a spark of the happiness that had been eluding me for weeks.”

 

Group Forest Bathing

 

The next morning Geema joined an organized group of 30 others in a large field and headed into a deeply wooded forest. She ventured off the trail, but within earshot of the guide’s voice. She tried to tune into what was happening in her body and what thoughts were running through her brain.

 

Gemma was learning how to reduce stress and anxiety: “After a couple of hours of roaming through leaves, I felt a new calm.” She stayed out after dark, which at first made her anxious, but after about 10 minutes, she found that breathing slowed and she started “to feel centered.”

 

When she got back home and faced a mountain of work, she did not default to her usual mix of frustration and self-criticism. Instead, she thought of the forest, inhaled deeply, and imagined herself disappearing back into the trees.

 

Gemma had truly learned how to reduce her stress and anxiety.

 

Click here to learn how to reduce stress and anxiety.