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Shinrin-yoku…Take a Forest Bath to Bio-hack Your Way to Happiness


Shinrin-yoku…Take a Forest Bath

Can going back to nature change happiness? Yes, it can! This episode focuses on the powerful bio-hack of shinrin-yoku, ‘forest bathing’ or ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ which research clearly shows changes our physiology for the better, lowering stress markers and increasing mood boosting, feel-good hormones.



Key Takeaways

  • Shinrin-yoku was developed in Japan during the 1980's and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine, indeed it is often just called 'forest medicine.'

  • Beginning primarily in Japan and South Korea, researchers have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Since then many studies have proliferated confirming this; medical science has always favored evidence-based medicine (EBM), and shinrin-yoku is well supported as an effective tool to, among other physiological benefits:

  1. Lower cortisol

  2. Lower heart rate and blood pressure

  3. Increase parasympathetic nervous system activity, lower sympathetic nervous system activity

  4. Increase immune response, especially upping the count of potent antiviral cells called “NK” (natural killer) cells, part of our immune system response to fighting cancer

  • Of course, we don’t necessarily need EBM to know many of these things, as cultures and people for millennia have been practicing this in some form or another. Both common cultural knowledge as well as psychological research indicate that 'nature bathing' has a very powerful positive effect on mood, well-being, and happiness. Psychological impact, mood, happiness.

  • Nature is a powerful tool for mindfulness, happiness, and purpose. John Muir, Scottish American naturalist author, poet wrote: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in".


Today’s Challenge

Make Time for Forest Therapy


Let's 'nature bathe'! Find as much green/nature/forest as you can and spend as much time as possible there. In one of the famous studies that found powerful positive physiological results, they asked participants to 'walk' and 'view' nature. Take time not just to be in nature, but to really be in nature. Engage all the senses, observe what is around you, listen to the sounds, and keep your eyes and mind open to the totality of the experience.



Resources

Eva Selhub and Alan Logan, "Your Brain On Nature: The Science of Nature's Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality"


Dan Buettner, "Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way"


Bum Jin Park, Yuko Tsunetsugu, Tamami Kasetani, Takahide Kagawa, and Yoshifumi Miyazaki, The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan


Jeffrey M. Craig, Alan C. Logan and Susan L. Prescott, Natural environments, nature relatedness and the ecological theater: connecting satellites and sequencing to shinrin-yoku




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