As our lives are becoming increasingly more oriented to life indoors than outdoors, we are finding more and more research that supports the need for us to be outdoors. According to Dr. Mark Hyman’s podcast The Mindblowing Healing Power of Nature, 87% of us spend 97% of our time indoors. We have become increasingly more disconnected from nature than ever before. 

The United States is not the only place where this disconnect has been happening. It is happening worldwide, but our focus today will be on a term called “forest bathing”. A term coined in Japan where 97% of their population lives in cities. 

The article from National Geographic by Sunny Fitzgerald entitled The Secret to mindful Travel? A walk in the woods, helps bring contextual meaning to what forest bathing is. The term forest bathing was created in Japan in the 1980s in response to the tech-boom burnout happening across the nation and to inspire the residents of Japan to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests. In Japanese, forest bathing is shinrin-yoku and has emerged as a form of eco-therapy. 

The research shows that you don’t have to engulf yourself in a forest to receive the benefits that nature has to offer. Even early morning sunlight helps with the following processes:

  • It helps anchor circadian rhythms
  • Improves sleep 
  • Improves energy levels
  • Increases focus 
  • Aids in the digestion and metabolizing of food

There is also further evidence that shows when we physically connect with the earth’s surface it: 

  • Reduces anxiety 
  • Reduces depression 
  • And is one of the most powerful antioxidants we can expose ourselves to 

What are some ways that we can increase our outdoor time?: 

  1. Try to get out into nature for at least 20 mins/week.
  2. Get at least 10 mins of first-morning sun when you can. 
  3. Add some indoor plants to green things up a bit. 
  4. If you’re not a plant person, add pictures of nature to your office and home. Even just seeing nature in picture form can help your body relax.

Resources: 

  1. This blog is based off of the podcast https://open.spotify.com/episode/7Ix7KTO3aLUb7jVg0Rzw4v?si=oUvItM7yQZGCjeJwMxoLsA&dl_branch=1
  2. This blog is also based off of the article taken from National Geographic https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/travel/article/forest-bathing-nature-walk-health

We hope this encourages you to step outside when you can. In next week’s blog we are going to share some of our favorite places to forest bathe around the Bay Area. We will also include other outdoor activities for you to consider. 

Be well, 

  • Dr. Horowitz & Staff