Take a Forest Bath
Science supports a Japanese tradition of “forest bathing” for mental refreshment and overall well-being.
“Have you ever wondered why you feel healthier and happier when you stroll through the trees or frolic by the sea?”, an entry in Medical Xpress begins. The answer is not just in the beauty. It’s in beneficial substances, including bacteria, that we inhale in outdoor environments. Japanese scientists traveled to the island of Yakushima, famous for its forests and mountains, to study the practice of “forest bathing” that gives a sense of well being. “The Japanese researchers suggested that we are taking in beneficial substances when we breathe forest air.” Aren’t bacteria our enemies? A few are, but here’s what the article proposes:
Research has identified three major inhaled factors that can make us feel healthier. These factors are beneficial bacteria, plant-derived essential oils and negatively-charged ions.
From birth to the grave, beneficial bacteria surround us; they live in the environment and, importantly, in the air we breathe. We also share almost our entire body with them. The more interaction we have with them, the happier and healthier we are.
If you can’t get outside where the ecology benefits you directly, you can get some benefit from it just by looking out the window. Another article on Medical Xpress says a study found that “views of green space help students perform better”. Students did better on tests when they could see green landscapes out the window, perhaps because it reduces stress.
Take it from me; outdoor walks have done wonders for my health after cancer surgery three years ago. I walked 1,000 miles outdoors in 2015 and might break that record this year. I know a pastor that takes outdoor walks as a form of his own personal Sabbath, not as a theological requirement, but as a time for quiet reflection with God. It really helped him after he recovered from cancer, too. Don’t wait for a bad diagnosis. Build healthy habits into your life. It’s a way of saying “Thank you Lord!” for the incomparable body and mind the Creator has given each of us to use on God’s green Earth.