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Forest Bathing-Shinrin Yoku in Finland

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Mental disorders are rising. Stress, feeling depressed, or anxiety is a severe struggle for many people, and it has increased over the last two years to the point that it has become a significant public health concern.

Forest bathing (shinrin yoku in Japanese) is a nature connection practice based on research that originated in Japan in the 1980s to address this issue. Shinrin yoku helps us find harmony, brings peace, builds resilience, boosts physical and mental well-being, and has an extraordinary power to restore health and ‘recharging.’

In Japanese shinrin means forest, and yoku refers to “bathing” the mind and body and all of our senses in the forest atmosphere. Instead of bathing in water, one can bathe in the healing atmosphere of the forest, basically an immersion in the forest environment.

The program was created to encourage people to get out into nature and green space and as a tool for all who want to feel better or recover from stress, anxiety, and depression. Studies show forest bathing lowers heart rate and blood pressure, reduces stress and calms the nervous system, increases the ability to focus, improves mood and creativity, makes better sleep, increases the feeling of liveliness, and boosts the immune system.

Forest bathing in Finland

Finland is a beautiful land of forests and lakes, and Finns recognize forests as a powerful entity and have a strong connection with nature. People in Finland have always loved nature for its peace and beauty. They are familiar with various outdoor activities such as picking berries or mushrooms, hiking or camping, or simply spending time in the forest with family, friends, or alone. Therefore forest bathing (metsäkylpy in Finnish) is a form of natural therapy that has quickly become popular in Finland and Japan, where it was established for the first time.

Forest bathing is about being fully present in nature; walking slowly and mindfully through the forest while enjoying the intense color of green in nature; listening to the sounds, observing birds, animals, and bugs; feeling the scent of soil and the air and handling trees, leaves, rocks, stones, branches, etc.

Over time various ways of forest bathing have come into practice in different countries.

Everyman´s right allows people in Finland to walk freely in the forests and expand their experiences of forest bathing to touch, taste, and even pick wild foods. In addition, in Finland, forest bathing can include touching and tasting the wild edible food of nature, such as mushrooms or berries. This extra aspect of forest bathing in Finland often gives people more ‘sweetness’ and satisfaction while connecting with nature. Indeed, we all know that no matter healthy food for the physical body or ‘food’ for the mind and heart all contribute amazingly to our overall well-being.

Guided Forest bathing

There are services of forest therapy programs with qualified guides and coaches for people interested in experiencing forest bathing in Finland. These certified guides can kindly assist the people through the forest slowly and peacefully by gently bringing the engagement of everybody on being attentive to the present moment of being in nature and help them to relax, enjoy and feel contact with the forest environment in different ways. According to previous arrangements, these guided forest-bath walks are available year-round for individuals, families, and groups.

Places of Forest bathing practice

Different places offer certified guides for forest bathing, such as in the beautiful nature of Lapland or the Helsinki area, including the Helsinki archipelago and Helsinki central park. Please remember that forest bathing is for everybody to improve their well-being and sense of happiness in life.

People often experience the immediate calming effect and feel restored and refreshed soon after forest bathing practice, and they happily repeat it regularly as a nice routine in their life.

The art of forest bathing is the art of connecting with nature through our senses. All we have to do is accept the invitation.
Mike Erskine

Let’s try Forest Bathing today!



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