Nature is the phenomena of the physical world collectively. It includes plants, animals, natural landscapes, and other wonders all around us. Before humans began to industrialize, it used to be a large part of our daily life.
For indigenous people, the relationship with nature has always been a unique and respected dynamic that continues even today! When it comes to the so-called “modern world”, however, the average person spends most of their time indoors and less time in nature. We work in office buildings, purchase necessities in buildings, and even play sports in buildings. The search for convenience and instant gratification is in such high demand that we are starting to see a growing list of delivery services. This growth is further maintaining our in-building presence. You can get anything from groceries to in-home dog grooming. Basically, we don’t even have to leave our homes to get things done anymore. Most people do not engage in nature or any type of outdoors for that matter.
Nature isn’t only about the beauty around us. Nature is medicine. Spending time in nature can be beneficial in many different ways. For example, there is research that shows spending time in nature decreases stress and anxiety.
In Japan, health care practitioners have now prescribed time in nature for their patients’ wellness. Due to Japan’s vast open spaces and forests, special attention has been paid to the effects of nature on people’s mood. Researchers have started to investigate how forest bathing can decrease stress, anxiety, and strengthen the immune system. The prescription was to immerse into nature with the five senses. The practice includes going into nature and fully immersing yourself in the experience. As human beings, disconnecting from the stressors of our daily life can be genuinely beneficial for our well-being. Indeed, Japan has extensive research on the impact forest bathing can have on individuals.
What Setting in Nature Speaks to You?
*take a moment to think about an environment that brings you happy or peaceful memories
The way to immerse yourself in nature is by locating a space near you to walk through. You leave behind your phone or any technology. Allocate a certain amount of time for this activity. Then, You begin to move slowly. You notice the landscapes, hear the sounds, and take in the smells. The key to forest bathing is immersion. This requires you to intake all the sounds and smells that around you. You can take some time to decide what landscape speaks to you the most. Is it the ocean, the forest, the smell of dirt, the scent of flowers? This is a personal and unique process that looks different for every person. The purpose of the location is to have a special connection or to remind you of a fond memory. That way, it will allow you to come into immersion fully. Personally, I love the ocean and forests. When I lived in Mexico, my family would take trips to the sea and the forest various times of the year. When I immerse myself in these landscapes, it brings back those sweet memories. So, remember to take this into consideration when you are choosing a location. Then, spend time immersing yourself. You can do it alone or with someone else. The best part of it all is that nature is free.
Arnold, Caroline. (November 2016). Get back to nature for good mental health. TED Talk.
Lin, Qing. (2018). Forest bathing is great for your health, Here’s how to do it. TIME
Karen Vejar is a graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Chapman University. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California, Irvine. Karen is a first generation Latina, dedicated to collaborating with other underrepresented individuals that wish to make an impact in the arena of mental health. Her intention as a future therapist is to promote healthy relationships that nourish and cultivate healing for individuals and couples.