Most people live in busy cities and don’t spend so much time anymore in green forests and natural spaces. We are surrounded by busy streets, cars and have constant distraction in the form of e-mail, WhatsApp messages and the likes. City dwellers have a 21% increased risk of getting an anxiety disorder according to research.
Forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.
In recent years many institutions like the New York times (1) and the World Economic forum (2) published about this phenomena and its benefits.
Forest bathing to treat anxiety
Forest bathing is being in the presence of trees. In 1982 this became part of the national public health program in Japan. In Japan its quite normal for people to picnic under cherry blossoms, they do this as a national pastime.
With the chance of sounding a bit weird, The world economic forum writes: the goal is to just be with trees. No hiking, no counting step with an app. No WhatsApp, Instagram, or Facebook. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything.
Experiments on forest bathing conducted by the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences in Japan’s Chiba University measured its physiological effects on 280 subjects in their early 20s. The team measured the subjects’ salivary cortisol (which increases with stress), blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate variability during a day in the city and compared those to the same biometrics taken during a day with a 30-minute forest visit. “Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments,” the study concluded. (1)
Of course this doesn’t sound so strange, yet to consciously make the decision to go to the forest more often and just be there. Could be beneficial for you, to relax your body and mind and lessen anxiety.