Why Do We Feel So Much Better After Spending Time Amongst Trees?
Researchers have found that spending mindful time in forests or woodland can boost mood, reduce stress and anxiety, lower cortisol levels and improve sleep. In Japan it is called Forest Bathing – Shinrin-Yoku and has become an approved clinical therapy which can be prescribed as an antidote to stress and anxiety.
Trees release antimicrobial essential oils into the surrounding air which protects the tree from germs and parasites. These essential oils are known as Phytoncides, which not only protect the trees but can also have profound benefits to forest visitors….think of the scent of Pine, Cedarwood and Sandalwood. I certainly have strong memories of walking through pine forests in France one very hot afternoon – the smells and sounds were amazing. The Phytoncides amongst many things are anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and antioxidant.
Sensory but Grounding Stimulation
Think about how to use all your senses when you are out walking – listen to the birds, the sound of the wind through the leaves. Look at the shape and colour of the tree trunks, the tiny perfect mosses on the branches and the sunlight filtering in through the canopy of leaves. Feel the warmth of the tree trunk and the texture of the bark – and of course breathe in the wonderful aromatherapy scents emitted by the forest.
Our 6th Sense – Proprioception
We also use one other very important sense – sometimes known as the 6th sense and that is Proprioception – our ability to feel ourselves in space. Our feet play a major role in this – our feet are amazing .They are packed with nerve endings and are a major sensory organ. Our feet constantly ‘talk to our brain’, by sensing & feeling – and yet we so often wrap them in thick soled inflexible shoes which can’t feel anything.
Why Walking in Barefoot Shoes Can Help Enhance Forest Bathing
Freet barefoot shoes are fully flexible and allow the foot to move naturally – feeling and sensing the ground. They can help us to be ‘grounded’ and connected by literally feeling the earth beneath us.
Our 7th Sense – Interception
This also leads to better interoception (our 7th sense), which is our bodies ability to sense itself from the inside out. The more we can tune into our own sense of self, the greater our feelings of balance both inside and out, which can then lead to increased well-being.