What is forest bathing?
The phrase ‘forest bathing’ might sound bizarre – but once you know what it is, it makes perfect sense. Despite its name, forest bathing actually has nothing to do with water. In fact, it’s a mindful practice that involves spending time in a peaceful, wooded environment, using all five senses to balance yourself, connect with your surroundings, and clear your head.
Forest bathing was first introduced in Japan in the 1980s (it is a literal translation of the Japanese phrase shinrin-yoku). Recently, it has also been gaining popularity in the UK. It was one of the inspirations behind the Duchess of Cambridge’s garden at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show, and it is being promoted as a healthy hobby by Forestry England, which manages the country’s public woodland. Shinrin-yoku is also currently attracting interest from GPs as a way to improve our general health and quality of life.
What are the benefits of forest bathing?
As we know at Philip Kingsley, good general health and lowered stress levels are essential to the health of your hair – not to mention the rest of your body and your mind. Practices like shinrin-yoku (as well as yoga, meditation and exercise) can help us take time out from our busy, often rushed and often stressful lives. The calm, revitalising influence of these activities can make all the difference to our wellbeing.
Preliminary studies on forest bathing support this idea. Shinrin-yoku has so far been found to provide a wide range of health benefits, including: reduced blood pressure, improved immune-response, better sleep quality, reduced anxiety, depression and stress; and enhanced memory and concentration.
At Philip Kingsley, we aren’t surprised by any of these findings. It is certainly true that phytoncides (compounds emitted by trees and plants) are beneficial for our immune systems. And besides, who doesn’t feel refreshed and revived after a day (or even an hour) in the calming beauty of a woodland?
Forest bathing destinations
If you live in a city, it can of course be difficult to escape into nature. Those of us in London are lucky to be in one of the greenest capitals in Europe, with many parks and wooded areas accessible throughout the boroughs. We love Highgate Wood in the north, Richmond Park in the west, Sydenham Hill Wood in the south, and Epping Forest in the east.
When we’re in New York, there are wooded areas to be found in Central Park. However, we think shinrin-yoku provides a great excuse to head upstate for a quick getaway. Ferncliff Forest, a 200-acre old-growth woodland, is one of our favourites for a day trip. Or try a weekend break in the Catskills, a region full of forests, wildlife and hiking trails.
Philip Kingsley’s pledge to our forests…
At Philip Kingsley we care greatly about the future of our forests. They are the lungs of our planet, and they offer fundamental support to life on Earth. That’s why all our cardboard packaging is Forest Stewardship Council approved (meaning that the cardboard has been produced from responsibly managed forests).
We are also proud to use only renewable bioplastic for our bottles. The plastic we source has been produced from bio-ethanol, a by-product of sugarcane farming. When sugarcane is growing, it absorbs carbon through photosynthesis. This means that our plastic bottles are not just carbon neutral – they are carbon negative.
We are committed to lowering our carbon footprint and caring for the plant.
Tell us in the comments section your favourite places to go walking and be with nature.