Forest Bathing

Go Out in Nature to Heal

Have you ever heard the term Forest Bathing?  It refers to the Japanese concept of immersing yourself in a forest in order to heal.  This involves taking a walk in the woods, or even just sitting in a natural environment.  It is not primarily walking that is healing.  Instead, it is simply being out in nature.  There has been research that shows Forest Bathing can improve mental and physical conditions.  This is because of the stress-reducing properties of being in nature.

My husband and I spent five days last week mostly outside in nature, so I just had an up-close experience with this practice. We both served as volunteers with the RBC Heritage golf tournament last week in Hilton Head.  We worked with the Shotlink system on the 17th hole.  

Because spectators were not allowed this year, there were very few people nearby.  The 17th hole of Harbor Town sits directly on the marsh of the Callebogue Sound.  There was a small pond directly across from where we sat on the green and marsh grass all around. I could see boats out in the sound, especially on Sunday afternoon, and Daufuskie Island and Savannah off in the distance.  

In the mornings herons, egrets and gulls waded through the waters in search of food.  At one point we had a “gallery” of three birds perched on the wood beams which held the sand bunker in place.  A bluebird flitted in and out of the sand traps directly in front of me seeking bugs for its lunch.  Late on Sunday we saw a gull flying slowly overhead carrying a fish in its claws back to its nest to feed her babies.  In the late afternoons, mullet in the pond began jumping across the water like they were flying.  

We were also able to enjoy the changing weather. The wind blew on Thursday, so we were able to cool off from the heat.  On both Friday and Sunday afternoons there were rain delays when afternoon thunderstorms popped up, as they often do on the coast in summer.  After the rain on Friday the sky was an incredible mixture of blue, with still dark clouds and the sun breaking through.  We saw a double rainbow crossing the sky just in front of us.  

During the delays we sheltered on the screened porch of a nearby house with other volunteers.  We were able to get to know others through this casual conversation and cool off from the heat of the afternoons. Even though this added several hours to our volunteer days, this break was also good for my sun-sensitive skin! 

Even now, I still remember the feeling of peace and relaxation of being in nature.  Smelling the salt air, hearing the different calls of birds, the croaks of frogs and feeling the sea breeze all relax me.  

Maybe you don’t have this same opportunity that Doug and I had to spend time on the Harbor Town golf course, but is there a natural environment you can enjoy somewhere near you this weekend?  

If you are in Aiken, why not take a hike in Hitchcock Woods.  Is there a local or state park near you? Check it out for a picnic lunch or short walk.  Make a plan to spend time outside in nature every week if possible.  If you have a yard, even spending time watering or weeding your plants can be therapeutic.  I especially enjoy weeding to work out any frustrations I might have.  My husband has said weeds tremble at the sight of me!  

Have you found healing by Forest Bathing?  Comment below with your favorite nature spots.  

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