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The benefits of forest bathing

Our Forest Bathing Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 will offer an accessible, immersive forest bathing experience.

Our Forest Bathing Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 will offer an accessible, immersive forest bathing experience. After the show, the garden, which has been funded by Project Giving Back, will be relocated. But what is forest bathing? And what are its benefits?

What is forest bathing?

Forest Bathing – the Japanese practice of ‘Shinrin-yoku’ – translates to bathing in the forest atmosphere and reconnecting with nature through our senses. It is taking time out to be outside amongst the trees, slowing down and observing and immersing yourself in nature, to relax and boost wellbeing.

What health benefits can it offer?

Spending time in a forest or woodland environment can offer many physical and mental health benefits, such as improving your mood and focus, reducing stress and anxiety, and lowering blood pressure.

I regularly see, through the children, young people and families affected by muscle wasting and weakening conditions who I work with, the positive impact that being outdoors has on both mental health and physical wellbeing.

Kate Waters, Family and Systemic Psychotherapist

Is accessibility an issue?

We should all be able to enjoy what nature has to offer but not all forests and woodlands are accessible to wheelchair users. However, there are lots of outdoor spaces, including parks and woodlands, that are fully accessible. Martin Hywood, who lives with limb girdle muscular dystrophy, has compiled a list of his favourite accessible outdoor spaces to visit, from the south of England to the Scottish Highlands.

How can I try forest bathing?

Ula Maria’s design is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, which translates to bathing in the forest atmosphere and reconnecting with nature through our senses. Forest bathing can offer many physical and mental health benefits, such as stress relief, lowered blood pressure, and improved mood and pain threshold.

Our top ten tips for practicing forest bathing:
  1. Take time to be outside and immerse yourself in a local forest or park.
  2. Leave the phone alone and put it on silent mode.
  3. Walk slowly to encourage your heart rate and speed of thinking to do the same. Be inquisitive and playful.
  4. Take in your surroundings using all of your senses. Look around (colour & shapes), smell, touch, listen.
  5. Breathe deeply to inhale fresh oxygen and beneficial chemicals.
  6. Relax, find a spot to sit down and observe.
  7. Touch the trees; do they feel differently from how they look? Explore your fingertip sense of touch.
  8. Being quiet will enable birds and animals to relax and approach.
  9. Two hours is the recommended dose of Forest Bathing, which allows our bodies and minds to relax deeply.
  10. Any time spent enjoying and appreciating nature will be beneficial. Extend the time as you can and compare how you feel before and after.

Find out more here: Forest Bathing Institute

How long should I spend forest bathing?

The Forest Bathing Institute say that two hours of forest bathing allows our bodies and minds to adjust and relax deeply. However, any time spent enjoying and appreciating nature, whether that is in a forest, woodland, park or garden, will be beneficial. Extend the time as you can and compare how you feel before and after.

Find out more about our Forest Bathing Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show here.

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