“Forest Bathing” / Shinrin-yoku

Have you ever noticed how you may feel better (mentally or physically) after spending time in nature, or watching a natural scene online? You are not alone, and growing research supports the benefits of time in nature on both our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Doctors in Japan have been prescribing shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing” since the 1980s! Shinrin in Japanese means “forest” and “yoku” means bath, so shinrin-yoku roughly translates into “bathing in the forest atmosphere” or “taking in the forest through our senses.”

Interested in exploring forest bathing in your daily life? Read below for some tips on how to get started.

How to get started:

  1. Make a plan to incorporate nature into your daily routine- even just as little as 17 seconds may be enough to benefit you mentally and physically!
  2. Find a space in nature that works for you to feel safe and calm. This may change day-to-day, and remember, that it does not mean you have to go outside. You can look at pictures of places you love like the Minnesota Zoo, or look up other natural spaces online. You can also use your imagination and visualize a space in nature you enjoy. If you have windows, you can also take a moment to look outside.
  3. Once you have identified the natural “space”, plan to take a moment to take a deep breath and engage your senses.
  4. What do you notice? How does it smell? What can you see? What do you hear? Remember that you can engage all of your available senses even when using your imagination or looking at virtual nature- try to think about what you would feel in that space.
  5. If you are able, plan to return to this same nature “space” daily to notice any changes in yourself or in the “space” itself.
  6. While this experience can be very personal and inward-focused, it can be a great family activity to share some observations. You can also plan a virtual forest bathing experience with friends and family members near and far.

Taking a few moments every day to immerse yourself in nature- either in real life, in your imagination, or virtually- can have profoundly positive benefits! The sky is the limit for how to engage with nature and experience the positive benefits for your mental and physical health.

The Minnesota Zoo would love to see examples of how you used this activity at home! Please share pictures or comments via email at [email protected], and take less than 5 minutes of time to provide us feedback by completing this short survey.