19th April, 2024
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Athena Forest Bathing

Shinrin yoku is a Japanese practice of relaxation which translates to ‘forest bathing’. And don’t worry
it doesn’t involve having a bath in the woods! It is a simple method of being calm and quiet amongst
the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply which can help both adults and
children de-stress and boost health and wellbeing in a natural way.

The benefits of being in woodland environments are endless! It is proven to enhance mental,
emotional and physical well-being. Being in nature allows participants to move around freely and
moving, from a musculoskeletal perspective, helps strengthen the body, improves gross and fine
motor skills, improve spatial awareness, increase sensory awareness, increases flexibility, improves
muscle tone and strengthens the core. At the end of the day, the human body was never designed to
be sedentary with sitting on chairs being physically damaging to the body, as the saying goes ‘motion
is lotion’. Furthermore, it is a well-established fact that regular exercise, including walking, can
reduce the negative effects of many major health threats such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary
heart disease and respiratory disorders. As an additional bonus, movement in a natural setting such as
a woodland also encourages the release of oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine and serotonin (i.e. the
‘happy hormones’) that help combat stress. Studies have shown that movement in non-natural
setting like gyms do not produce the same hormone response (https://ngs.org.uk/the-power-of-
trees/
).

Furthermore, being in nature has a calming effect on the nervous system, can help participants relax
and can help with mental health issues including anxiety, stress and depression. This is proven to
help all age groups from children to young adults to dementia sufferers and those with spectrum
disorders such as ADHD.

Being in woodlands helps improve the immune system, and helps respiratory conditions (breathing clean
oxygenated air and away from pollution) keeps participants away from the damaging effects of EMFs
(electro-magnetic frequencies emitted by electrical goods including PCs, TVs, laptops, tablets,
mobile phones, game consoles, routers) and obviously reduces screen time and the damage that these can do to eyesight, posture, brain development etc.

Forest Research report (Benefits of Green Infrastructure) also found other benefits of being in
woodland environments include longer life expectancy, better mental health, improved physical
activity, better air quality and can help with community cohesion.
At Athena Forest Bathing, we take time away from our busy lives and the constant onslaught from
our screens to connect with nature and each other. Sessions include walks, storytelling, craft work,
cooking and team-building activities.