Winter for some of us may mean saying goodbye to the warmer weather and hibernating until the spring. However, why miss out on this wonderful, yes really, season. The heat of the summer may have left us for now, but you can see its energy transfer into the surrounding nature and trees.
Those of us in Kent are lucky enough to have countless beautiful woods, forests, reserves, beaches and of course the North Downs. Exploring these natural spaces in winter can release a feeling of tranquility within us, as we can appreciate the natural environment without the summer crowds.
What is Shinrin-Yoku?
Have you ever heard of ‘Forest Bathing’? No, well its a Japanese practice called ‘shinrin-yoku‘ which translates roughly to forest bathing. With the core idea of being calm and tranquil amongst the forest atmosphere, watching nature and controlling your breathe.
This eco practice was developed in Japan in the 80’s and it has been found to show positive health benefits. Forest bathing has said to create tranquil neuropsychological effects through changes in the nervous system. Consequently reducing the stress hormone and boosting the immune system. It it said that just 15 minutes of forest bathing can lower your blood pressure and your concentration clarity improves.
Fun Fact – There are now 44 accredited Shinrin-Yoku forests in Japan.
Easy Steps To Achieving Forest Bathing
- Leave your phone, camera or other distractions at home.
- Slow down, wander through the forest without any expectations or aims.
- Stop from time to time, smell and feel what is around you.
- Find somewhere to sit for a few minutes, watch your surroundings, use your senses. Avoid thinking about your daily life.
- Breathe deeper and slowly, which tells your body it can relax.
So, now you know what to do, but why and where? Why go and walk this winter I hear you say? Here are just 8 reasons why you should grab your shoes, wrap up warm and head out into the forest. You can check the Forestry England website to search for your nearest forest or green space to indulge in the benefits listed below.
8 Unquestionable Reasons To Walk In The Winter
1.Benefit from the natural light and fresh air – being exposed to natural light helps to maintain positive vibes throughout the darker months. Breathing in fresh air increases the amount of good oxygen into your system, helping you sleep better. It can also help in combating any initial signs of SAD during this season.
2. Soak up the winter sun – exposure to natural sunlight enables our bodies to create vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin, which helps to improve our immune system. Although during the winter we often need to rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources (including fortified foods) and supplements.
3. Lift your mood – going outside improves moods and can increase your productivity.
4. It is an opportunity to switch off – leave the phone at home, get away from day-to-day pressures. Getting outdoors allows you to be tranquil and temporarily forget about any worries or stress.
5. Break free from the sofa – walking is an easy, accessible and a great way of getting out and active. It reduces time spent on the couch, unhealthy eating and being unproductive.
6. Connect with nature – with so many seasonal changes happening to the environment around us, getting outside is the perfect way to appreciate and enjoy the wildlife and nature at this time of the year.
7. You burn more calories – your body actually burns more calories when exercising outdoors when it’s colder because it’s trying to keep your body warm.
8. It’s free – anyone can do it and is a perfect opportunity for a family day out.