Boost your immunity and improve your mood by forest bathing with NATURE THERAPY IRELAND
If you’ve ever moved slowly through a forest, listened to the wind in the trees or noticed the sunshine filtering through the leaves, then you’ve already practised forest bathing in your own way.
If you are looking to deepen this experience and explore your connection to nature, this is where Nature Therapy Ireland comes in. Their aim is to help you develop an enhanced sense of appreciation for and connection to nature and in doing so, re-balance your body and mind.
What is forest bathing?
Many cultures have long recognized the importance of nature for our health. While the concept at the core of this practice is not new, Japan is credited with the term ‘shinrin-yoku’ or ‘bathing in the forest atmosphere’.
This evidence-based practice was developed during the 80s tech boom when an increase in stress-related illness from overwork in urbanized areas was noticed.
During the 90s, researchers began investigating the health benefits of forest bathing, providing us with the science to back up our innate knowledge: time spent immersed in nature is good for our mind, body and souls.
Forest bathing is now an accepted part of Japanese preventative health care and widely considered a powerful antidote to the pressures of our modern world. It is proven to deliver lasting benefits for our physical and mental well-being, such as:
How does it work?
One such way is through ‘phytoncides’, essential oils released by trees and plants to defend against insects, animals and decomposition.
International research is discovering that these airborne chemical compounds also appear to benefit humans. They can lower our levels of the stress hormone cortisol, our pulse rate and blood pressure while increasing the levels of natural killer cells and white blood cells that make up our immune system.
Research has also shown that, on an average week, people who spend at least 120 minutes in nature are significantly more likely to report higher levels of good health and psychological wellbeing than those who don’t visit nature at all.
Forest Europe (2019) found five key mechanisms that account for these health benefits of time spent in forests:
What happens on a forest bathing walk?
Never have we been so removed from the natural world, especially those of us that live and work in cities. But the good news is that even a small amount of time spent in nature can have a positive impact on our health. A two-hour forest bathing walk will help you to disconnect from technology and really slow down, bringing you back to the present moment.
The focus of forest bathing is not about strenuous exercise, it is a gentle walk through natural surroundings with many opportunities to slow down and pause.
Nature Therapy Ireland invites you to come as you are, without expectation, and simply be in nature.
They use a series of invitations to gently guide you in encounters with nature, to awaken your senses and hopefully shift the focus from your busy mind to the natural world surrounding you. To the sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes and anything else you may notice in a way that feels right for you.
How do I take part?
Nature Therapy Ireland runs a number of forest bathing and nature connection based events every month in Phoenix Park, the wider Dublin & Wicklow areas, with new events due to pop up across the country very soon.
Find out more by visiting their Instagram & Facebook accounts @naturetherapyireland and join their mailing list to be the first to find out about upcoming events.
Hi everyone, I’m Sarah Hourigan. Growing up in the Irish countryside meant that I developed a strong connection to nature early on. Exploring woodlands, building treehouses, swimming in rivers, lakes, the sea and camping and hiking in the mountains was home for me.
Following a masters in applied psychology (TCD) I went on to work in the field of health research knowing that ultimately this route wasn’t the right fit.
I decided to put my energy into nurturing what I loved outside of work. I began by volunteering with a youth group and rediscovered my passion for working with people and that I feel most at home outdoors. Fast-forward a little, I left my office job and began working with the female adventure group Galz Gone Wild where I quickly realised that sharing my knowledge about the healing potential of time outdoors in nature was where I needed to be.
After studying courses in Wild Therapy & Ecopsychology and Forest Bathing & Forest Therapy, I founded Nature Therapy Ireland in 2019. We have a simple vision: to share knowledge and skills on how to explore your connection to nature and in doing so experience some amazing physical and mental health benefits.
We draw on elements from each of these practices and years of experience to create and hold a safe space in nature for you to explore what benefits and healing you can find for yourself.
Looking forward to connecting with you in nature.
Photography: Madeline Mulqueen Photography
Find out more about Nature Therapy Ireland here!