In 2008, the world reached the tipping point where more people were living in urban areas than outside them. Combine this fact with how many hours each day we spend inside in our workplaces, our homes, in our car and travelling to work. The majority of people spend their entire workday indoors under fluorescent lights and in front of computers, then return home to a glowing television, a smart phone or computer screen. There is also a cultural shift away from outdoor recreation to digital technology and consequently we are spending less and less time outdoors.
Proven Nature Therapy benefits
Being in nature is beneficial, and possibly essential, for human health. Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to mental, physical, spiritual and emotional wellness. Research shows being in a non-threatening natural environment reduces the body’s stress reaction. It triggers the body’s relaxation response, which in turn can lower blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels. Scientific researchers are finding more and more evidence of the health benefits of being in nature, and this is leading to a field known as Nature Therapy.
One form of Nature Therapy is Rainforest Bathing, which has benefits such as de-stressing, improving short-term memory, reducing inflammation, and helping combat depression and anxiety. It has also been shown to protect eye vision and the ability to focus, offer sharper thinking and enhanced creativity, longer concentration, possible anti-cancer effects, an immune system boost, improved mental health and reduced risk of early death.
Rainforest Bathing without a plug
The term Rainforest Bathing or Forest Bathing does not literally mean bathing in a bathtub in a forest, it is being in a forest and diving into nature with all our senses. The Japanese are obsessed with it and have been practising it for over 35 years. In Japan, Forest Bathing is officially a recognised method of preventing diseases and the National Public Health Institute promotes it, the universities study it, and the hospitals use it as a prescription. When you breathe in the forest, you are inhaling a cocktail of bioactive substances released by plants. One of these groups of substances is called terpenes. We absorb these gaseous terpenes partially through our skin, but especially through the lungs. Some of these terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective activities, making forest air like a healing elixir we inhale. Doctors of forest medicine confirm the anti-cancer terpenes have a direct impact on the immune system as well as an indirect impact on the endocrine system. For example, they help us deal with stress by lowering our cortisol levels.
Be in nature for your optimal wellness
Being outdoors in nature is a simple, natural and health promoting and preventative strategy against the epidemic of the growing non-communicable lifestyle diseases. Considering the significance of quality of life in our modern stressful society, the importance of getting naked, especially in the rainforest/forest has never been greater for achieving holistic wellness.
Written by Michelle Winrow, sitting outside on the grass immersing myself in nature.