What is Forest Bathing?

Forest bathing (aka Nature and Forest Therapy) is a simple, mindfulness practice that involves meditating or spending unstructured time in nature (no soap, towel, or bathing suit required!). This practice originated in Japan in the 1980s. and was originally called shinrin-yoku, which means “bathing in the forest atmosphere”.1 It was created as a way to counter the negative effects of a hectic life and stressful work environment.

Benefits of Forest Bathing:

Forest bathing creates an opportunity for the stressed portions of the brain to relax and encourages positive hormones to be released into the body. This leads to an array of health benefits that include boosting your immune system, lowering blood pressure, helping with depression, reducing stress hormones, and lowering your bodies fight-or-flight response.1 One study even found that people felt more positive about their body image when exposed to images of natural environments.2

How To Get Started:

1. Find a location where you’re surrounded by trees. The ideal place to forest bathe is deep in the woods, somewhere like the Columbine-Hondo wilderness. But if you’re looking for a shorter commute, then one of our town parks like Fred Baca or Kit Carson will work just as well.

2. Set aside a good chunk of time. Ideally, plan to spend 2-6 hours to get the ultimate health benefits. But if you don’t have that much time, just 15 minutes has been shown to help relieve stress and anxiety.

3. Aim to reduce your heart rate. The intention of forest bathing is to move very slowly and calm your nervous system down, maybe practice some gentle yoga or tai chi. This isn’t the time to work on getting that rock hard six-pack or do your favorite HIIT workout. Exerting yourself too much will cause your body to produce stress hormones, which is what we’re trying to decrease with forest bathing.

4. Breathe in the scents of the forest. Many health benefits come when we inhale chemicals (aka phytoncides) that trees release into the air. Phytoncides are natural antimicrobials that trees and plants emit. They can benefit the human body by working as anti-inflammatories that reduce oxidative stress, enhancing sleep, reducing cortisol levels, and reducing blood glucose levels. 2


  1. The science of forest bathing: 5 ways it can boost health and lower stress : Life Kit : NPR
  2. Forest Bathing | Psychology Today