Bring Shinrin-Yoku or Forest Bathing Indoors

Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is the practice of spending time in the forest, and it can improve your health, reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve your productivity and overall wellbeing. For decades shinrin-yoku has been an essential part of Japanese culture, and it offers a way to reconnect with nature by walking in the woods or spending time in the local park. If spending time between the trees at the moment is not an option for you, then read on and find out how you can bring a part of shinrin-yoku into your home.

It is no secret that spending time out and about in the nature is good, and it always leaves us energised and relaxed. The sound of trees swaying in the wind, dry leaves crunching under our feet, a distant sound of water, birds singing, and the fresh smell of the air, all these factors bring a sense of calmness to our minds and bodies. In addition, they leave us refreshed, revitalised and in better moods than before we went out in the nature. In Time Dr. Qing Li, a scientist and an author, writes:

“Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses.

This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.”

Even more so, by 2050, as Dr. Qing Li notes, 66% of the world’s population is projected to be urban (2014 – 54%; 1950 – 30%). So how do we reap the benefits of forest bathing within the urban area and from our home? Dr. Qing Li in his book Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest-Bathing offers a couple of ways to bring the forest into your home. Read on to find out.

Fill your house with plants.

Plants will not only make your home look like forest and add some colour to your interior; they are also great for improving indoor air quality. Some of the best air-purifying plants according to NASA are: peace lily, English ivy, golden pothos, gerbera daisy, mother-in-law’s tongue, bamboo palm, dragon tree, and spider plant. If you have trouble sleeping, then place some jasmine and valerian in your bedroom, these plants work as sedatives and relaxants. Plants not only improve the air quality, they also regulate the level of humidity in the air that is good for your respiratory system. So bring in more plants, it will make you feel happier and calmer.

Make indoors smell like outside.

Essential oils are a fantastic way to recreate the woody smell of the forest at home. Some of the best essential oils to create the atmosphere of the forest indoors are cedarwood, rosemary, eucalyptus, pine and hinoki, as well as any other conifer essential oils. You can use essential oil diffuser or reed diffuser to get the particles of essential oil in the air. Alternatively, create your own room spray with these essential oils; it will also help to remove dust from the air.

Alternatively you can use some incense, particularly Japanese Koh to invite the smell of forest into your home, it will refresh your mind and body.

Scatter wood shavings around the house.

Dr. Qing Li recommends keeping small bags of cedarwood shavings around the house, particularly by the door, so when you get back from work, the smell of forest will greet you. Cedarwood shavings are also great for keeping moths and insects at bay. I would also recommend drying out pine cones and leaving them around the house; or pick chestnuts in the autumn, weave them on the thread and hang them in your wardrobe to keep moths away and to keep your clothes fresh, as well as scatter them around the house.

Now play some nature sounds in the background and allow your senses to relax, just breathe and enjoy your own personal indoor forest.

Most importantly, whenever possible head out to the forest for a long walk, and leave your phone and to-do lists behind. Allow your senses to fully experience shinrin-yoku.

For further reading about numerous benefits of forest bathing My Good Planet recommends to read Dr. Qing Li’s book Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest-Bathing

Baiba Šustere

Baiba Šustere is a writer whose work focuses on mindfulness, health and wellbeing.