Modern life can be tough sometimes. Travelling is often the antidote to stress and anxiety. Forest bathing is a simple and enjoyable practice that can improve well-being in many ways, taking a break from the noise, pollution, and crowds of the city during you holidays.
Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku in Japanese, means to immerse yourself in nature with all your senses. This is something very different from hiking, exercising, or meditating: this is all about simply being present and aware of your surroundings. Forest bathing can be done in any natural setting, such as a park, a garden, or a woodland, but it is especially beneficial in forests, where the air is rich in phytoncides, the natural chemicals released by trees and plants.
It originated in Japan in the 1980s as a way to counteract the negative effects of urbanization and technology. Nowadays it is a popular and recognized form of ecotherapy, with many scientific studies confirming its benefits for physical and mental health.
Hotels and resorts surrounded by nature have one more attraction to offer to their guests.
What are the benefits that people can rely on?
Forest bathing reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and anger, lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, promoting relaxation. The immune system is boosted too and prevent diseases. Mood and cognitive functions are also improved. Forest bathing stimulates the production of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, the neurotransmitters that regulate your emotions, motivation, and pleasure. By reducing mental fatigue, it also improves the attention span, memory, creativity.
It is also good for soul, helping people reconnect their inner self with the natural environment. It fosters a sense of awe, gratitude, and wonder for the beauty and diversity of life.
The Mediterranean area is blessed with a variety of natural landscapes that are ideal for forest bathing. There is plenty of choice: mountains, hills, valleys, coasts, islands, and forests too of course, that offer different sceneries, climates, flora, and fauna.
The Valle Aurina in Bolzano is a valley that stretches for 40 kilometers along the Alps. You can walk through forests of spruce, larch, pine, beech, birch, and maple trees that change colors with the seasons. You can also enjoy the views of glaciers, waterfalls, rivers and peaks.
Another wonderful location in Italy is Casentinese National Park in Tuscany one of the largest and oldest forests in Europe admiring ancient trees that are over 500 years old or visiting the Monastery of Camaldoli for a spiritual break.
The Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park in Andalusia is a mountainous area that hosts pine forests oak groves chestnut trees and olive orchards.
One last idea is Samaria Gorge National Park in Crete one of the longest gorges in Europe where it is possible to walk along a rocky path that follows the course of a river that flows through steep cliffs and dense forests.
Forest bathing is a practice that anyone can do, anywhere, anytime. All you need is a natural setting, your senses, and your curiosity. The colors, shapes, and textures of nature stimulate your eyes and brain. The scents of flowers, herbs, and soil delight your nose and mood. The touch of leaves, bark, and stones awakens your skin and feelings. When you practice forest bathing, you are developing a deeper appreciation and respect for the environment and its resources. You are becoming more aware of the interdependence and harmony of all living things. You are also contributing to the conservation and restoration of nature by reducing your ecological footprint and supporting sustainable practices.
How would you imagine forest bathing activity in today’s travel plans?
Where would you like to practice it? Does it give you a sense of freedom being in the nature?
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