What do you think of when you hear woods or forest? Does it bring a sense of peace or a sense of fear or neither? There is actually a form of mindfulness or mental health treatment called forest bathing. I believe it started in Japan and is called Shinrin Yoku. I have read article that in other countries, doctors are writing prescriptions for people to get outside and using nature for anxiety and depression relief. As a therapist, I am very aware that nature isn’t the only way to treat depression, anxiety, or deal with stress, but it can absolutely be a great addition to treatment.
When I think of the woods or the forest, I think of peace and calm. I think of of letting go. For me, water and the forest are my happy place. This fits into the idea of green and blue spaces bringing calm. I love trees and the green canopy they bring. I love fall in New England and the rich warm colors that come. I even like the bare trees of winter and love the rebirth of spring.
I’m learning more about the chakras and love how the sacral chakra is all about exploring through our senses. Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is all about using our senses to take in nature and use them for stress reduction. Being in nature and for me specifically the woods/forest or water, grounds me. Using my senses in the woods, I try to see things, hear things, smell things, feel things, and, if I’m lucky, taste things. Grounding is a great way to cope with depression, anxiety, and stress. It’s a way to become more present and aware.
Do you like the woods? Is it calming and peaceful or more stressful? Finding what makes you happy is what is important and that thing can change, but having ideas of place that you can go is really helpful in decreasing stress and anxiety and improving one’s mood.