The Japanese have many terms that we don’t use in English. One of my favourites is “forest bathing”– a leisurely visit to a forest. It is becoming more widely practiced in North America but has been a stress management activity in Japan since 1982. Ben Page, founder of Shinrin Yoku LA, remarked in a USA Today story, “A hike is generally oriented as a journey from point A to point B, whereas forest bathing is not about reaching a physical destination. The destination in a forest-bathing walk is more like a mental space of effortless relaxation and awareness.”
Studies have shown that exposure to nature creates calming neuro-psychological effects leading to reductions in stress, anger, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness. It’s a good reason to take a walk in the woods whenever possible. I’m fortunate to live near a beautiful forest where I can get some exercise, calm my mind, and take some photos.
It’s pleasurable to walk in the forest, even in winter. There are numerous animal tracks in the snow, as well as interesting ice formations, and plenty of crisp, fresh air.
Photo tip: Taking forest photos in a relaxed stare of mind is quite different from the immediacy of capturing a moment. Take note of how your vision changes when you are forest bathing.