I Tried the Japanese Practice of “Forest Bathing,” and It’s Not What It Sounds Like

The good news: It's totally free.

In today’s anxiety economy, many of us are on the hunt for products or therapies that will quell our stress once and for all. But that search can become expensive. As a person who tries health and well-being treatments regularly, I appreciate ones that come without a hefty price tag, or ideally, are completely free.

That’s part of what made shinrin-yoku, the Japanese concept that loosely translates to “forest bathing,” so intriguing when I first heard about it. Forest bathing, or forest therapy, as it’s often referred to, isn’t exactly what it sounds like. It’s not soaking in a porcelain tub among the oak trees , or having a session with a therapist in a wooded area. Instead, it’s simply spending time in nature, allowing yourself to reap the benefits of being mindful in the great outdoors. Science supports the concept: studies have found it to have a variety of health benefits, from reducing stress to boosting mood.

To learn more about the practice and to see how people can emulate it even in urban areas without many green spaces, I tried a guided forest therapy walk in New York’s Central Park, and learned that you don’t have to be surrounded by “big nature” to reap the benefits.

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