Thank you for joining me at UBC Botanical Gardens. I hope the experience was enjoyable, giving you time to connect with the natural environment and feeling refreshed.
Our forest bathing session was held at UBC Botanical Gardens. It was founded in 1916 and is Canada’s oldest university botanical garden. The garden is 44 hectares (110 acres) and includes over 8000 different kinds of plants
About Tara Brown
Tara L. Brown is a PhD Candidate and Public Scholar at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry, committed to making a tangible impact on community well-being through her research. Specializing in the health benefits of nature-based therapies, Tara has led a pioneering clinical trial on the effects of forest bathing in Vancouver parks. As part of her Public Scholar commitment, she is collaborating with Metro Vancouver on developing “Silent Trails,” designed to enhance the therapeutic value of the natural soundscape. With her expertise in environmental monitoring and community-focused initiatives, Tara offers a deeply enriching and scientifically informed forest bathing experience.
Nature, constant in giving, asks us to reciprocate by caring & preserving it for future generations. 'That is a collective service we may bring to all human spirits. We are nature in mind, body, and spirit.' - Hansen & Jones (2020), DOI: 10.1089/acm.2020.0193
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing is a simple and low-risk activity that originated in Japan in 1982, where it is called shinrin-yoku. It involves immersing oneself in a forest to engage all senses for a holistic experience. It combines sight, sound, smell, and thermal comfort to create a therapeutic environment.
Forest bathing is akin to sea bathing—immersing in the forest’s energy. Professor Keizo Kamiyama remarks, “Forests have antiseptic properties and can even cure mild colds.” Programs like “Boys Forests” and “Ikigai Forests” aim to cater to urban youth and the elderly, respectively (Akiyama, T., 1982).
In Japan, forest bathing transcends a leisurely activity. It is part of Shinto and Buddhist practices and contributes to public health and forest conservation.
Theories Supporting Forest Bathing
- Biophilia Hypothesis: Suggests humans are innately attracted to nature and experience well-being when connected. (Wilson, 1984; Wilson & Kellert, 1993)
- Stress Reduction Theory: Argues that natural scenes induce a positive response as they were advantageous for human survival. (Ulrich, 1983)
- Attention Restoration Theory: Postulates that nature restores cognitive function by allowing the brain to rest. (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989; Kaplan, 1995)
- Nature Connectedness: Implies a subjective sense of unity with nature, positively affecting mood and cognitive function. (Mayer & Frantz, 2004; Lumber et al., 2017; Martin et al., 2020)
- Psychological well-being
- Stress reduction
- Lower heart rate
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved immune system
- Enhanced fatigue recovery
Begin by selecting a forest or green space that feels comfortable and safe to you and where you can spend uninterrupted time. Carry essentials, and keep someone informed. Consult healthcare professionals as needed. Engage all senses while walking slowly. Sit if you feel like it. Guidance from trained professionals can enhance the experience.
What to Pack?
Essentials include comfortable clothing, insect repellent, water, and a small sitting mat. Keep your cell phone for emergencies and leave distractions behind.
Forest bathing is more than a walk in the woods. It focuses on mindfulness, environmental connection, and does not require spiritual belief. Unlike hiking, which is goal-oriented, forest bathing emphasizes the experience of the journey through mindful observation.