What is Forest Bathing?
Let's address the elephant-in-the-room first. No, you do not need a swimsuit. Forest bathing simply means immersing yourself in nature by intentionally turning up the volume on all your senses. In Japan, it's called Shinrin Yoku, and it's widely recognized as a research-based activity that has real health benefits. I personally find it to be a simple, meditative tool that calms and restores me (buzzword: self-care), so I can do my best work in whatever environment I happen to be in.
Forest bathing walks are different from hikes or natural history walks, where the goal is reaching a destination or learning plant and animal names. Think of forest bathing as soaking in the natural world -- a time to let the forest’s sights, aromas, and sounds wash over you.
When you come on our walks, expect to cover a short distance (about a mile) and experience a healthy amount of silence. You’ll have the chance to share insights with your fellow walkers based on activity prompts the guide invites you to participate in. Like any invitation, you're free to accept the prompt or enjoy your natural surroundings in a way that is meaningful to you.
Why Forest Bathing?
A growing body of research shows that spending time in nature is good for your mental and physical health. Benefits can include improved energy, lower blood pressure, lower stress hormones in your bloodstream, a stronger immune system (including higher numbers and activity of Natural Killer Cells), better sleep patterns, and increased anti-cancer protein production.
At the end of my walks, I've asked participants: "What (if anything) has changed about your emotional or physical state?"
Over 50% said they were calmer and more relaxed -- or felt more at ease.
Other responses included things like:
More connected (to community, to myself, to the natural world)
Invigorated, rejuvenated, and energized
Happier; more optimistic or content
Less caught up in personal issues
Centered and grounded
Easier breathing & lower pulse rate
Who is my guide?
My name is Judy Beaudette, founder of Forest Bathing Northwest LLC and former board member of Friends of North Creek Forest, a local nonprofit that helped lead the efforts to preserve 64 acres of urban woodland in Bothell, WA (which is now a public park called North Creek Forest). Trained as a K -12 educator, I’ve been leading forest bathing walks for visitors ages 16 to 90 years old since 2017. One participant described a walk with me in this Seattle Times article.
Many of us don’t need a guide or research to convince us that spending time in nature is good for us -- we’ve been “forest bathing” on our own for years. That said, Forest Bathing NW inspires you to incorporate simple, nature-inspired mindfulness practices into your everyday life, so you can experience life intentionally through all your senses and emotions. Our programs teach people how to find well-being and peace in the now -- the one place where true opportunity lies.