It was a trendy topic a few years ago, but it’s still a great idea!
The topic? Forest bathing, a method of self-care that goes far beyond its literal meaning of taking a bath in a forest. Forest bathing focuses on becoming one with your environment and the nature that is around you.
Here’s how Time Magazine put it:
“We all know how good being in nature can make us feel. We have known it for centuries. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. They ease our stress and worry, help us to relax and to think more clearly. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.”
Whether you call it forest bathing, hiking or simply a walk in the woods, spending time in nature is a great idea for the mental health and well-being of you and your kids alike. You don’t need to go far to immerse yourself in nature – find a local park or hiking trail in or around your community to get started. Plan wisely and be sure to pack comfortable shoes, sun protection and water. Being outdoors has many benefits, such as clearing your mind, reducing stress and reducing your blood pressure. It’s also a great excuse for your family to bond and to get off their electronics.
As useful as forest bathing is for personal and familial purposes, it is also deeply beneficial as a mental health intervention. North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center offers a program to at-risk youth which utilizes the theories that underlie forest bathing to help adolescents cope with stressors in their lives in our Wilderness Respite Program, which provides participants with a gateway to the mastery of social skills and youth empowerment through hikes and other outdoor activities.
As one of the parents of a Wilderness Program participant put it, “Therapeutically speaking, this program teaches my son the tools to handle his negative combative thinking through hiking in various land and weather conditions. During each hike my son participates in, I have observed positive changes in his attitude and behavior which last for several days. His thinking appears clearer, his mood swings lessen. This program has definitely increased his self-esteem. The benefits of this program are endless.”
To learn more about all the Guidance Center’s programs, contact us at 516-626-1971. Our trained clinicians can help you navigate any struggles that you may be experiencing.