Shinrin Yoku

My mother always told me that a walk could help solve most problems. When I was bored, she’d say, let’s go for a walk. When I was sad – she’d encourage me to call up a friend and “walk it out.” When I had cramps – take a walk – a headache – take a walk. Writer’s block, you guessed it. While she had other cures, she was telling me to get out and walk most of the time. She also followed her advice. My mom walked everywhere!! Now that she is older and walks less, I am proud to continue the tradition. 

Something I have come to love is a Japanese concept called Shinrin-yoku. It translates to “forest bathing,” and the idea is that putting yourself in nature and “bathing” in its atmosphere is excellent for your well-being. The sounds, smells, sights, and calming effects of nature are beneficial for you, whether hiking, walking, or sitting under a tree. 

Here are some suggestions to make the most of Shinrin-Yoko:

  1. Disconnect from tech – leave your phone at home or at least in your pocket.
  2. Disconnect from expectations – don’t spend your time in the forest thinking about work or what you’re cooking for dinner. Think about the sound of the trees or the colours of the season.
  3. Disconnect from the moment – take a few deep breaths and notice the smells. Listen to the wind or the birds. 
  4. Connect- you don’t have to go alone. Often my forest walks are with a friend, my dog or one of my kids. We use that time to reconnect with each other. 

I’m lucky to live somewhere with forests all around me. I drag my kids out to walk the dog through the forest trails all the time. I tell them it’s good for them. I have become my mother. Just 15 minutes in nature a day is enough to make you feel better, and if you can walk it – even better – you never know, it might get rid of that headache.

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