Shinrin-Yoku – your guide to this Japanese forest bathing exercise

Wyre Forest

Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese form of nature therapy that was developed in the 1980s. The Japanese government ran studies which showed that spending time wandering around forests could help to reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels, among other benefits. Various studies since the 80s have backed up these claims, so now Shinrin-Yoku forest bathing is seen as a legitimate exercise for stress reduction.

We wanted to explain what Shinrin-Yoku forest bathing is, how to best do it, and where you can do it in the UK.

We should also clarify that there is no difference between Shinrin-Yoku and forest bathing - Shinrin-Yoku is simply the Japanese name for forest bathing.

How do you do Shinrin-Yoku forest bathing?

Although it has a fancy name, Shinrin-Yoku forest bathing is simply going for a wander around a forest, and that's about it. There are a couple of things you should try to do to make it a proper Shinrin-Yoku experience - for example, it's best to leave your headphones at home. Although music can often help people to relax, the whole point of Shinrin-Yoku is to immerse yourself within the sounds of nature and the forest. Also, many people listen to music through their phones, and the last thing you want during a Shinrin-Yoku experience is to have your digital devices turned on.


Another tip would be to try to go to the forest at a quieter time, ideally in the morning or during the day on a weekday (when others are at work or school). Nighttime can be great but is generally a bit more dangerous, so we'd recommend sticking to a quieter time during the day.


Lastly, remember that there isn't really one right way of doing Shinrin-Yoku, and everyone will have their own unique approach depending on their circumstances. For example, the idea of spending hours wandering around a forest might sound great, but might not be possible for some people. But even if you can get out into a forest for 15 minutes of uninterrupted wandering, you'll still feel the benefits.

Where can you do Shinrin-Yoku forest bathing in the UK?

To be honest, you could do Shinrin-Yoku forest bathing in just about any forest in the UK. We've previously written about Wyre Forest and Rendlesham Forest, both of which would be good choices (the latter in particular). But again, the whole point of Shinrin-Yoku is to wander about any forest and disconnect from the outside world for a little bit.


Our only bit of advice would be to choose a forest that people aren't working in (logging, clearing, etc.), not only because that will cause noise which may disrupt you but also because it might be unsafe.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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