Listening to the singing of birds or the sound of a river, smelling the refreshing scent of wet earth after rain or observing the green tones of the plants’ leaves are some of the things that can move us to a state of peace. In fact, this is the philosophy behind the Shinrin-Yoku (forest bath in Japanese), a Japanese practice that is part of the Japanese national health program created at the beginning of the ’80s.
Shinrin-Yoku consists in connecting with nature and, according to the author of “The Power of the Forest” book, the immunologist Qing Li, we can “absorb the forest through the five senses.”
Shinrin-Yoku improves short-term memory and helps us revitalize our health
The benefits of this practice are not only endorsed by a thousand-year-old philosophy but different scientific studies have also concluded that they could have important benefits for our health.
From the University of Michigan, a team of researchers discovered that this old Japanese practice can have a repairing effect on our ability to concentrate and remember things. According to their findings, published in Sage Journals, they determined that short-term memory improves by 20% when taking walks in the forest and connecting more with the nature surrounding us.
Also, researchers from the University of Bristol proved that Shinrin-Yoku has antidepressant effects.
How to apply Shinrin-Yoku when you are living in an urban area?
Although ideally would be to practice this old Japanese philosophy in the middle of a forest outside big and polluted cities, it is not necessary to leave the city if you do not want to.
Qing Li explains in his book that it is possible to obtain these benefits when walking in a public garden or even in a park.
Annette Lavrijsen, a wellbeing-specialized journalist, who also just published a book on the subject, recommends short walks in the park after lunch to disconnect from the stress caused by hard working.
Shinrin-Yoku can also be practiced indoors. For this to work, you should buy more plants and, -in case of living in a flat, you can create a vertical garden.
In conclusion, in the stressful world we all live in, today, a simple old Japanese practice, the Shinrin-Yoku philosophy where the human-nature connection is the best way to be happier, healthier, and smarter.