Back in high school, my friends and I would meet on Saturday afternoons at one of the local forest preserves to throw a Frisbee or just hang out. Ok, sometimes Old Style beer was involved, but for the most part we loved meeting there because we felt as if we were a million miles away from the city. Who knew we were on to something back then?
Recently I heard a story on NPR about Forest Bathing.
Yep! Forest Bathing. It’s a real thing, but not what you might think.
Clare Kelley, the reporter on the story admitted that when she was assigned the project, she actually packed a swimsuit, but once she got there,
she realized the “bathing” has more to do with immersing yourself in the forest than diving into a forest pool.
I was fascinated listening to her talk about how a Certified Forest Therapy Guide took them across the footbridge onto Theodore Roosevelt Island to experience the forest snuggled next to Washington DC. At first, you could hear the planes flying into Washington’s Reagan Airport overhead but as her story progressed, the city noise seemed to fade and sounds of the forest became louder.
The guide taught her group how to absorb not only the sounds of the forest but the smells and the colors. After they “meandered” thru the woods (as Kelley called it), the guide asked them to close their eyes, just breathe and clear their heads.
When they were told to open their eyes, she told them to pretend they were seeing the world for the first time.
Kelley says, “After I opened my eyes, the green looked a lot greener. And I began to see things I hadn’t noticed before: the flutter of birds, the ripple of the water, the swaying of trees.”
What I love most about this story is there really is a huge health benefit to taking a walk in the woods.
It’s a kind of meditative therapy that (according to another expert in Clare Kelley’s story) can decrease blood pressure and combat real stress.
Amos “Clifford’s goal is to encourage health care providers to incorporate forest therapy as a stress-reduction strategy. There’s no question that stress takes a terrible toll in the United States; a 2015 study found work-related stress accounts for up to $190 billion in health care costs each year”.
I can attest to the fact that escaping the city and heading to the woods can do a world of good. Last June, Russ and I took a break from the MAJAMAS routine to Vancouver BC and headed up to Whistler. (Read more about our escape in our blog WE MAKE Time To Travel.) We hiked trail after trail in the deep woods absorbing the smells, sounds and beauty of the forests there. One of the prettiest hikes was thru the center of Stanley Park where we were surrounded by enormous trees, amazing smells and a bounty of nature smack inside a major city…. and that’s the point of my sharing Clare Kelley’s story.
She reminded me that even though I work in Chicago and right next to Chicago’s West Side, I can still escape the city stress by heading to my local forest preserve. (Chicago has more than 153,800 acres of protected forests within it so escaping doesn’t mean having to pack a suitcase…we’re lucky!)
So I guess my high school friends and I were pretty ahead of our time.
Escaping from the noise of the city, our cell phones and computers and heading into a green forest to take it all in can truly be a therapeutic practice.
Check out the whole story by Clare Kelley here.
For more about forest bathing and finding a Certified Guide, click here.
Try it for yourself! Head over to The Nature Conservancy website to find a forest near you (click here).
What do I love most about this “new” craze? It not only helps us, but it’s bound to help the planet. My hope is it will bring awareness to the importance of preserving our environment and natural treasures, the same reason we design environmentally friendly USA MADE clothing. More than ever, we need to fight to preserve these national (and local) forests. Not only are they home to wildlife, but without our forests we can’t breathe. Trees help combat pollution by cutting the CO2 levels in the air we inhale in every day. They also emit natural oils that we absorb just by being near them (hence the beauty of bathing…) Read all about the benefits of these oils in our blog WE WEAR Essential Oils. Let’s learn to appreciate all nature has to offer.
You don’t need special shoes or equipment to Forest Bathe, but you do need to be comfortable! Try wearing one of our MAJAMAS Sporty Bras under your favorite tank (or one of ours). Our entire MAJAMAS ESSENTIALS collection is made from eco-friendly fabrics that wick moisture well and keep you comfy all day long so you won’t be focused on anything but what’s around you (not on you!) Even at home these pieces will transport you back to that quiet place every time you put them on.
Click here to browse our comfy MAJAMAS ESSENTIALS!
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer
TO HEAR FROM YOU
What are your favorite forests to escape to?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below! Your comment may even win you a free MAJAMAS garment this week!