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.
Forest bathing, originally known as shinrin-yoku, was coined in Japan in the 1980s as a preventive health care practice to combat stress, insomnia, depression and more. Also known as forest therapy, 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 greenspace wash over you. Forest bathing connects people to nature, but did you know paper connects you to nature too?
“It’s really about being present in the present moment.”
– Tamberly Conway, CEO of Conservation Conexions
The paper and packaging industry helps care for and relies 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 and medicines in transit. You won’t find a bigger supporter or fan of our forests than paper and packaging.
The paper and packaging industry sources responsibly from primarily private and independently-owned forests, leaving national parks virtually untouched in the process. Paper companies work with America’s private, often family-owned, forest landowners to grow and maintain forests at a rate nearly double the volume needed to make the paper and packaging you rely on every day.
By stepping away from the noise of our everyday world and connecting with nature through forest therapy, 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.
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 and identify what you’re seeing, touching, smelling and feeling. Recording your experiences on paper can help bring you into the present and help improve your memory of the outing.
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 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.”