Fall is a great time for getting out in nature and going for a walk. The leaves are out, the bugs are gone, and the temperatures are ideal. Spending time in a woodsy area and exploring nature with just your mind (i.e. turn your phone off) can be meditative and relaxing, especially for us busy, busy ladies. The Japanese have been calling this practice Shinrin-yoku, which translates to ‘forest bathing,’ since the 1980s.
Forest Bathing Is a Thing
Researchers in Japan say that being out of doors and taking in natural, forested environments should be a big part of preventative health care for each and every one of us.
The proposed health benefits are huge, from increased ability to focus, to reduced blood pressure and stress, to boosting our immune system’s way of fighting cancer.
Doing it is pretty easy: Take a walk and keep it slow. Breathe deep. Look, listen and feel your surroundings.
Find A Forest (Or a Patch of Trees)
Forested and green hiking trails wind across Massachusetts and beyond, into New England.
The Arnold Arboretum offers special Forest Bathing slow-paced experiences with a certified forest therapy guide.
The Bay Circuit Trail is a 230-mile greenway that connects open space along an outer ring of Boston that stretches from Plum Island to Plymouth. It loosely follows Route 495.
And, The Trustees of Reservations owns 118 protected places large and small that you can visit, each unique and interesting.
Ascending to the top of Buck Hill at Blue Hills Reservation is one of our favorite, quiet hikes. From the parking area along Route 28, you can choose among a few trails that lead there in under an hour — even with kids and novices.
Plus, the view from the top of the Boston skyline and Boston Harbor Islands is magnificent.
Venturing off down a path into the woods can sometimes be intimidating, especially for newbies. Before you go, print off a map of the place that you are visiting and tuck it in your pocket. The idea is that you’ll have it if you need to follow along as you walk, but what you really want to do is just see where the trail leads you.
Of course, mobile service gets dicey when you’re in the woods, but most smart phones have a compass that will still work.
You don’t need to go out and buy any special gear or shoes to go for a walk in the city, and the same applies for walk in the woods. Just put on some sneakers and comfortable clothes. If you’ll be out for a couple hours or more, you may want to pack water and some snacks.
Forest bathing? You’ve got this.
Additional reporting by Jonathan Harrington