How nice is a walk in the woods? When you just need a break to clear the mind, nature has an incredible restorative power.
The Japanese call it Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing,” where people are encouraged to wander through the woods in order to improve their health and wellbeing.
It might go without saying, but walking in the woods has actual health benefits. Studies conducted on forest therapy, which mostly come out of Japan, showed reductions in stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness amongst the participants.
Researchers at Kyoto University asked subjects to evaluate their mood and stress level on “forest days” versus “control days” spent in a normal environment. The conclusion showed that forest environments were mood-boosters, and especially helpful for those dealing with chronic stress. Not to mention, a walk through the woods provides a certain amount of physical exercise.
Being in nature also helps you focus, or in the words of Henry David Thoreau, to “simplify, simplify, simplify.”
Do you ever feel like you are juggling 50 things at once? Our lives are so detailed. Between work and school and getting married and having children and being constantly connected to the Internet, we become caught up in our own small world and care about insignificant things.
It’s why Thoreau went to the woods. He needed a place to focus!
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” Thoreau writes in Walden’s “Where I Lived, & What I Lived for.”
Hiking in the woods is one of my favorite things to do. If I’m feeling anxious, confused about a situation or even a little sad—I never regret a walk with Mother Earth.
Unless of course there are mosquitos. F*ck mosquitos.