Post Summary: How to Experience Forest Bathing In The Pacific Northwest
The world can be an overwhelming place. Politics, current events, family and friend drama – sometimes all of this can feel like a little too much!
Berty and I have felt these anxious feelings plenty of times, but we’ve discovered a way to set these emotions aside for a minute and give our minds a reset…and it’s 100% outside.
It’s called Shinrin-Yoku, or Forest Bathing. Now there is no actual bathing involved (unless your experience involves a PNW hot spring!) but think of it more like a bathing of your senses. In short, Forest Bathing is a practice of immersing yourself in nature and being acutely aware of your outdoor experience.
It’s easy to do and absolutely relaxing! In this post, here is what you will learn about Forest Bathing:
- The History of Forest Bathing
- Physical and Mental Benefits
- How To Practice Forest Bathing
- Our favorite trails to go Forest Bathing
Ready to breathe deep? Let’s get started.
Why You Should Try Forest Bathing On Your Next Hike
What Does Forest Bathing Mean?
In the simplest of explanations – forest bathing is a way to immerse yourself in nature via awareness and your heightened senses. Think of it like forest ASMR, but live! It doesn’t take any fancy equipment or even money – just yourself, and nature.
You can do this by yourself, or be walked through the steps with a forest therapy guide. Certified forest therapy guides can be an incredible aid in assisting you with getting the most out of a session. They can give you prompting questions, tips, and even time frames, too. They also are knowledgeable on the best trails and places to go, if you are unfamiliar or new to the area.
Forest bathing is a natural practice. Depending on your health care provider, they may be able to direct you to certified forest therapy guides, too. It doesn’t hurt to call and ask!
History of Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku)
Japanese researchers in the 1980s were trying to find a way to help people disconnect from tech devices and all the anxiety that came with them. Through lots of testing, they discovered that being in nature is highly beneficial to one’s body, mind, and overall health, providing physiological and psychological benefits to nearly all their patients.
We feel it too! Breathing in the clean air and soaking in the view of the lush woods has such a positive effect on our mood and overall well-being. Berty and I could be walking 10 miles and be physically exhausted at the end of the day, but be mentally and spiritually restored.
The Benefits Of Forest Bathing
So, with all this research about forest bathing, what are some of the benefits? These benefits will vary from person to person, but here are some ways it can restore and refresh you on your next trail walk:
- Improves Mood
- Heightens Your Sense of Being Alive
- Increased Connection To The Natural World
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Decreases Heart Rate
- Restores and Refreshes Your Mental State
- Lowers Stress Hormone Levels
- Improves Immunity
- Can Lower Inflammation
How To Practice Forest Bathing (Step By Step Guide)
Now, it’s time to pick your forest bathing spot. Ideally, a spot you are familiar with because we suggest leaving your phone and camera behind for less distraction. (If you’re not comfortable hiking without a communication device, come with a Garmin inReach mini and/or let someone know your route, and exactly when you will be going and returning.)
Your location does not have to be deep in the woods – it can be as close as your local park or community garden!
Pick a time of day that is your favorite. Maybe that’s sunrise, and you get to peek at the rays beaming between the trees. Or maybe it’s sunrise in an open area, where you get to see the colors of the sky change. No matter what the time, pick a moment that’s calming and familiar.
Now, it’s time to embrace your five senses. Focus on one at a time, to really bring awareness to different aspects of the forest and how you are responding to it.
Here are some guiding questions to get you started on forest bathing:
- See: What is the light like? What kind of textures do you see? How many different colors can you spot?
- Hear: What noises are you picking up? Rustling leaves, babbling brooks, chatty birds – listen to what the forest is saying!
- Taste: Is there anything edible on your trail?
- Smell: Does it smell fresh after a recent rain?
- Feel: Guide your hands over some brush or leaves. What does moss feel like? How cold is the water in the creek?
Our Favorite PNW Spots To Go Forest Bathing
Need a little help finding the perfect forest bathing destination? We’ve got you covered! Click the links below to discover more details about our favorite PNW trails to enjoy this natural therapy.
- The Trail To Goldbug Hot Springs In Idaho
- Cascade Pass / Sahale Arm (North Cascades)
- Fern Canyon in Redwoods National & Parks (California)
- Colchuck Lake Trail In The Alpine Lakes Wilderness
- Diamond Creek Falls Trail Near Eugene, Oregon
- Nisqually Vista Loop at Mount Rainier National Park
- Cape Flattery Trail on the Olympic Peninsula
- Tonquin Beach Trail in Tofino, BC
- Iceberg Lake Trail In Glacier National Park Montana