6 Simple Steps to Find Inner Peace In Forests

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6 Simple Steps to Find Inner Peace In Forests

By Alyssa Giacobbe

It’s official! Science has proved what moms around the world have known for years: Playing outside is legit good for you. “Spending time in nature—as short as 15 minutes—can have important health benefits,” says Dr. Lisa Nelson, Director of Medical Education at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, where she teaches a weekend-long workshop on “forest bathing.”

It’s a trendy topic in the U.S., but forest bathing has been around forever in Japan, where it’s called “Shinrin-yoku.” The idea: the simple act of frolicking in a forest can have major relaxation & health benefits. Less stress + less anxiety = more contentment.

Spending time in nature—as short as 15 minutes—can have important health benefits.

The good news is that you don’t have to leave town to bask in the benefits of forest bathing. Even urban dwellers can do it since you don’t actually need a forest! Whether you stare at a skyline or a tree line on the daily, Dr. Nelson shares 6 steps to forest-bathe, no matter where you live:

Work Out Outside
Even if you live in a concrete jungle, just being outside can have major health perks. Heart rate, cortisol levels & blood pressure all go down, while heart rate variability—linked to cardiovascular health & longevity—goes up. The easiest way to get these benefits? Take your morning run from the treadmill to the trail. Or, skip the subway & take the sidewalk.

We get it. Scrolling through your feed while on a walk is better than doing the same thing while on a couch. But come on, that’s cheating. The fact is, too much screen time leaves us chronically stimulated. The calming & restorative effect of being in nature is meant to counter that. So let it. Get out from behind your screen, head outside—& resist the urge to check your email/Snapchat/Instagram/whatever during your stroll.

Smell The Roses—& The Trees
Certain evergreen trees, like cypress & members of the pine family, have aromatic compounds that are known to increase cancer-fighting cells when you breathe them in. And most city parks have them. So take a deep breath & inhale the healing.

Less stress + less anxiety = more contentment.

Find Nature Wherever You Can
Leaf peeping (aka checking out fall foliage) is a beautiful & healthful way to see new places. But in case you can’t escape the city on the reg, you can do it in an urban environment. Hello city parks! One of Dr. Nelson’s favorite studies found that kids with ADHD got the same benefit from a 20-minute walk in an urban park as they did from their medication. Those kids who walked in a setting without trees did not. Womp womp.

Ask For The Corner Office
Standing up & going outside is best, we’re not gonna to lie. But even looking out a window can help you reap some of the benefits of the great outdoors. Escape from your computer every half hour to do some therapeutic staring out the window. (You’re not procrastinating; you’re improving your health!) If you’re relegated to the #cubelife, take heart knowing that many people have reported feeling better when their screensavers are photographs of nature.

Get a Pet
If you own a dog, you’ll be forced to go outside more often (nature truly does call). But animals also bring the benefits of the outdoors in. People with pets have fewer allergies & instances of asthma. Meanwhile, the love we develop for pets releases the positive hormone Oxytocin, which has been proven to have a whole host of benefits on mood & overall health. And let’s be real—dogs just make everything better. Seriously, everything.