Forest Bathing

Nature’s the ultimate stress-buster, says Science. It’s simple math: You look at a tree, you feel better. No one knows this as well as Dr. Qing Li, a researcher from Japan who focuses on something called forest medicine. Li’s work confirms what intuition and common sense have long told us: Being around trees is healthy. But it’s more than just that: Li has found that spending time in nature is not just good for those of us who are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or fatigued. It can actually have positive effects on sleep, energy levels, immune function, and cardiovascular & metabolic health. That research is well-known in Japan, and the idea of “forest bathing” -spending time in nature with purpose and attention, is well-practiced. But the idea of walking into the woods instead of the pharmacy hasn’t yet caught on in the US and other Western societies.

Now comes the spotlight moment that forest bathing deserves. Li, who serves as the chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine, just wrote his first book. The definitive guide to the therapeutic Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku. Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, 2018.

Notice how a tree sways in the wind. Run your hands over its bark. Take in its citrusy scent. As a society we suffer from nature deficit disorder, but studies have shown that spending mindful, intentional time around trees -what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, can promote health and happiness. In this beautiful book -featuring more than 100 color photographs from forests around the world, including the forest therapy trails that criss-cross Japan, Dr. Qing Li shows how forest bathing can reduce your stress levels and blood pressure, strengthen your immune and cardiovascular systems, boost your energy, mood, creativity and concentration, and even help you live longer. Once you’ve discovered the healing power of trees, you can lose yourself in the beauty of your surroundings, leave everyday stress behind, and reach a place of greater calm and wellness. #forestfromthetrees