Everything You Need to Know About Forest Bathing Retreats

Last updated October 1, 2022

What if your doctor prescribed nature over conventional medicine? Forest bathing is becoming a vital part of preventative healthcare around the world. In fact, doctors in many countries are now giving patients green prescriptions (Green Rx) to spend time outdoors. 

According to the New Scientist, venturing into the great outdoors has been shown to improve sleep, reduce stress and boost happiness—not to mention an increase in attention, memory and creativity. 

While nature isn’t a cure-all, crisp air sure does wonders in the form of forest bathing.

Enter Forest Bathing

Essentially forest bathing is a type of wellness activity where one immerses themselves in natural surroundings. Believe it or not, forest bathing has been around for nearly four decades. It originated in Japan in 1982. The Japanese refer to it as the practice of Shinrin Yoku.

As Japan recognized rising suicide rates, technology dependence and social isolation, they explored preventative health measures. Notwithstanding, forest bathing is able to address many of these issues and more. In addition to offering holistic health advantages, this type of wellness is easy to access.

Shinrin Yoku: a form of eco-therapy known as forest-bathing; the physiological and psychological exercise of taking in the forest atmosphere.

In Japan, roughly 70% of the country has green space and woods. Thus, forest bathing was readily adopted as a new lifestyle by many Japanese residents.

The exercise encourages a person to slow down, be mindful of their surroundings, and disconnect from technology. Individuals are guided in using all five senses to explore the natural environment. In many cases, some individuals choose to explore such settings barefoot in an effort to further “ground” themselves in nature.

Of course, you reap the most benefits from forest bathing in woods, forests and other natural settings. But this form of nature wellness can also be enjoyed in arboretums as well as indoor forest rooms. And yes, these are a thing.

The Benefits of Forest Bathing

The concept of nature wellness is not only supported by subjective experiences. Research has backed up the numerous claims linking forest bathing to better health. For one, it has been shown to reduce stress and stress hormone levels.

This has notable benefits on blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia and cardiovascular wellness. Additionally, nature wellness boosts immune function and vitalizes white blood cells. Most recently, forest bathing is being explored in relation to Attention Deficit Disorder management.

Despite what the term seemingly implies, forest bathing retreats do not involve submersion in water. Nor do they mean nudity required. Forest bathing retreats take place in the dense, wooded greens of nature. No water necessary.

Nature Heals What Ails You

As a new form of wellness travel, forest bathing retreats promote immersion. According to TIME, forest bathing “is like a bridge and by opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.” 

The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses. Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet. Spend time looking around, breathing in the scent of the forest and listening for sounds of birds and wildlife as well as the rustling of the leaves in the trees.

By immersing ourselves in nature for a period of time, a number of health benefits occur. Benefits for our mental, intellectual, social, spiritual and physical health. Think of it as the forest version of the immune-system booster shot from your favorite juice bar. Just like drinking a boosted smoothie improves the health of your immune-system, immersing yourself in nature improves your overall well-being. Immune-system included.

This is the very reason that nature wellness escapes have become increasingly popular.

Rising Popularity of Forest Bathing

Canyon Ranch Woodside forest bathing shinrin-yoku forest bathing
Courtesy Canyon Ranch Woodside

Wellness travel is in. Rising popularity for wellness travel calls for a vacation full of wellness activities. Needless to say, forest bathing is one of them. Considering only 30% of the Earth is covered in forests, forest bathing is a unique and rare experience.

Most vacations consist of UV rays and sandy beaches. When was the last time you took a vacation in the forest?

Green Is Good

Hikers in Washington

Opportunities to explore nature wellness are abundant. The bigger challenge is making the time to incorporate this into your lifestyle.

Disconnecting from technology and escaping into nature can be difficult in today’s climate of pressured demands.

As a result, many people choose to try forest bathing and other methods of natural wellness. They even include it as a part of their wellness travel. Day walks in Tuscany, mountain hikes, outdoor cycling and more are included in a wellness travel itinerary. There is no doubt that a variety of wellness travel options exist!

Once you return, the experience will motivate you to keep nature immersion as a part of your lifestyle. Whether you choose it at home or abroad is up to you.

It suffices to say that it is likely you will enjoy this type of nature wellness. Go out into the woods and practice mindfulness. Your mind and body will be all the better when you do.

About Vacayou

At Vacayou [pronounced VACAY – YOU], we believe that travel has the power to change lives. The power to revive, rejuvenate and redirect your inner wellness warrior. And that’s why we’re here. Take an online staycation with us and change how you think about travel. Let us make it easier for you to search, discover, and book wellness and active vacations. But we don’t stop there. We are with you every step of the way—before, during and after your journey—to make sure you enjoy the most meaningful vacation ever. Vacayou is wellness travel that meets you right where you are.

There’s a whole world out there and Vacayou is here to help YOU explore it! No matter how far or how adventurous, our team scours the globe to curate the best in wellness travel.

Vacayou’s forest bathing retreats take place anywhere from state-of-the-art wellness resorts to guided backcountry camping. Start the trip of your lifetime today, with Vacayou.

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