As Christmas creeps nearer, our minds turn to presents. But not all gifts come in shiny wrapping paper. During the national Covid “Lockdown” we all became more aware what a blessing it is to escape into nature.
A jog through the woods, a few hours getting muddy on a mountain bike trail or a brisk hike round a country park are a gift to our physical health. Exercise elevates the heart-rate, gets our circulation moving, burns calories and strengthens lungs and muscles.
But can a walk in the woods also repair mental health? Supporters of the increasingly popular practise of ‘Forest Bathing’ think so.
“Shinrin-yoku (Forest Bathing) means ‘bathing’ all the senses, whilst walking slowly in the forest. When taking in the forest atmosphere like this, the brain naturally switches off from the ‘sustained directed attention’ of life’s daily pressures.” http://forestbathe.co.uk
Practitioners say it reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure and helps restful sleep. Research has suggested that a chemical released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, boost the immune system.
And it’s not just in Japan that people are turning to trees for wellbeing. The Woodland Trust, the RSPB and Forestry England all now offer forest bathing experiences at their woodland sites. Even the Duchess of Cambridge is said to be a fan.
Why not test it out for yourself with a woody wellbeing walk in one of Sherwood Forest’s green spaces?
Sherwood Heath, just off the A614 near Ollerton is a surprising, free to enter site where a few hundred yards from the entrance gate you’ll soon leave the noise and bustle of the modern world behind. It’s a fragment of the ancient Royal Hunting Forest of Sherwood, managed by the Sherwood Forest Trust. It’s a hidden gem – amazingly just a stone’s throw from a pub, petrol station and a busy roundabout.
So next time the urge to shop comes over you, consider giving yourself a gift – a green outing to woody wellness!
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