Forest bathing or ‘shinrin-yoku’ was first developed in Japan in the 1980s, following scientific studies conducted by the government. The results showed that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve concentration and memory. They also found that trees release chemicals called phytoncides, which have an anti-microbial effect on human bodies, boosting the immune system. As a result of this research, the Japanese government introduced ‘shinrin-yoku’ as a national health programme.
Over the last few years forest bathing has begun to gain popularity in the UK. Many of us naturally head outside as a way to unwind and feel refreshed, but the benefits of ‘nature therapy’ are also backed up by science: in 2018 academics at the University of Derby found that improving a person’s connection with nature led to significant increases in their wellbeing.
“The Swans and Year 1 enjoyed walking around our Cross Country route during a spot of forest bathing and we kept stopping to marvel at our incredible grounds – we really are so lucky. ALL of the children asked to go for a walk again in their next Outdoor Learning lesson and surely this is proof that their wellbeing had been given a boost through ‘shinrin-yoku’ at Grace Dieu!” says Mrs Faye Burley, our Forest School Trained Practitioner.