Forest bathing is the latest Japanese wellness trend coming to the U.S.
For the times when you just need an escape, take a cue from the Japanese and go take a bath in the forest.
But this bath doesn’t involve any water. Since the 1980s, wellness and nature enthusiasts in Japan have turned to a practice called “forest bathing” (or shinrin-yoku in Japanese).
A forest bath is quality time spent among the trees with no distractions. There’s no end destination like on a hike, or specific type of tree to seek out. All would-be forest bathers need to do is break from all outside distractions (no cell phones allowed) and take in the surrounding forest. Consider it meditation in nature—without any of the concentration or discipline necessary for meditation. In fact, the most important rule for taking a forest bath is no effort, according to Quartz.
Among the benefits associated with forest bathing are a boost in immune system functions, reduced blood pressure, improved mood, improved ability to focus, increased ability to focus, increased energy and improved sleep. Spending time in nature has also been proven to increase the count of the body’s “natural killer” cells. (Those are good cells.)
It’s a practice just starting to take off stateside. There are groups around the country to lead people on leisurely, guided breath walks through the forest. But shinrin-yoku is so simple, it’s possible to just do it alone without any training.
For those inspired by the Japanese practice, here are 15 scenic forests around the world to rest and recharge in a forest bath.