Connect to Nature
with Forest Bathing and Paper

Connect to Nature
with Forest Bathing and Paper

Women forest bathing

Craving an opportunity to zone out, connect with what’s going on in the “now” that exists outside your device screens, take in some fresh air and maybe even learn something new about yourself? Enter forest bathing, a therapeutic experience that anyone and everyone can enjoy.

What Is Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku?

Forest bathing, originally known as shinrin-yoku, was coined in Japan in the 1980s as a preventive healthcare practice to combat stress, insomnia, depression and more. Also known as forest therapy or nature bathing, this activity is a way to slow down and connect with each of your senses. What you see, hear, smell and feel is an entirely different experience when you let everything that’s happening in a refreshing green space wash over you.

Shinrin-yoku can go deeper than just looking at beautiful trees. The practice draws on three distinct concepts of Japanese culture:

  • Yūgen: An awareness of the beauty of the world that cannot be expressed through words. Letting yourself be in awe of the forest is a way of practicing yūgen.
  • Komorebi: An appreciation of the interplay of the sun and the forest—specifically, the way the sunlight leaks through the forest canopy.
  • Wabi-sabi: A recognition of the beauty of imperfection and ephemerality. Notice how even a tree that’s damaged or otherwise imperfect still has its own allure. 

“It’s really about being present in the present moment.”

– Tamberly Conway, CEO of Conservation Conexions

What Are the Health Benefits of Forest Bathing?

Shinrin-yoku has proven de-stressing benefits. That extends beyond simply making you feel more relaxed: Forest bathing improves immune function, reduces blood pressure, slashes stress hormones, activates the “rest and digest” arm of the nervous system, and improves mental health measures for conditions such as anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.

Indirectly, forest bathing has health benefits for the forests, too. The more you appreciate being in nature, the more you want to learn how to protect our forests—something the paper and packaging industry already knows. By nourishing private, independently owned forests, papermakers help care for and rely on healthy and growing forests to create the products you love and need, from the novel you can’t put down to the box protecting your food. You won’t find a bigger supporter or fan of our forests than paper and packaging. Need proof? Paper companies maintain forests at a rate nearly double the volume needed to make the paper and packaging you use and enjoy every day.

By stepping away from the noise of our day-to-day world and connecting with nature through forest bathing, you have a unique opportunity to tune into the now, and paper can help you do that even better. Keep reading to learn how.

How to Forest Bathe

Forest bathing is not a hike, nor is it simply a nature walk. It is a slow walk through nature where you focus on taking in the forest environment with your senses. “It’s really about being present in the present moment,” says Tamberly Conway, director of partnerships at Forest Bathing International and CEO of Conservation Conexions.

Forest Bathing See

See how sunlight filters through the greenery.

Forest Bathing Touch

Feel the textures of the trees and ground.

Forest Bathing Listen

Listen for wildlife and the wind in the trees.

Forest Bathing Taste

Taste the freshness in the air.

Forest Bathing Smell

Breathe in and smell nature’s fragrance.

Forest Bathing Paper

Don’t forget to pack paper.

Not sure where to start? Print out paper’s guide to forest bathing for some suggestions, such as listening to wildlife in the trees, watching sunlight filter through flora, breathing in and tasting crisp woodland air, smelling nature’s many fragrances, and feeling the texture of tree bark, rocks and earth. 

Enhance your excursion by packing a paper journal. Use your journal to help you focus on and identify what you’re seeing, touching, smelling and feeling. Recording your shinrin-yoku experiences on paper can help bring you into the present, connecting the natural feel of paper to the nature around you.

Find a Forest Bathing Guide

Conway, whose expertise is in relational forest therapy, has led many in-person and virtual forest bathing practices. Her top tip: Find a local guide before trekking out on your own. After a guided tour, she says, it’s much easier to go into the natural world and incorporate some of the forest bathing practices you learned.

“When I guide people in the practice or [am being led], there’s definitely a difference in the relationship connection that occurs between people and what we call the ‘more-than-human world,’” Conway says. “You notice things that are different, [and] you notice your deep connection to it all.”

Ready to experience forest bathing for yourself? Find a local guide, and don’t forget to pack a nature journal and a boxed water for your outdoor excursion.