Forest bathing recently came up in the UK and became quite popular. It is the Japanese practice of being mindful within the threes in a forest, breathing in the nature around. It is proven to be really helpful to de-stress, and it is especially helpful for Highly Sensitive People.
Nurturing Souls Of HSPs
When I used to live in Latvia, where majority of the country is forest, I would escape to wander around it for hours every day. The forest was so much a natural place to be for me in, that I even had a nickname ‘forest princess’ in our family. Now looking back, I am not even doubting that the forest helped me be happier in those days.
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”John Muir
And so here is my thought – can forest bathing be especially good for HSP? Well, what I know for sure is that HSPs have no problem connecting with the beauty and richness of a forest. After all we do take in more stimuli without thinking.
Similarly, Highly Sensitive Refuge mentions that forest bathing might indeed be a crucial part of self care for HSPs. They claim that numerous researches helped to identify a number of benefits of this activity, such as releases fatigue, reduces stress, helps with depression, etc. However, making my little search into these studies I found that forest bathing helps reducing cortisol levels (stress hormone) in a short term. Meaning that forest bathing is, without a doubt, a perfect activity for HSPs. The only problem – you have to do it quite often.
Difficulties And Solutions
When I moved to UK and started living in a town where any green area with trees would be a little bit further away than to what I was used to, I felt horrible. I felt like I don’t have anything nurturing me anymore, nothing that I can rely on fully. And what is worse – I thought it was normal to feel that way. Although, the only thing I wanted was to go back to living right by the side of some forest so I can give that to myself again.
It is definitely very difficult to experience forest bathing when you live in a city. Even if you retreat into a forest miles away from your house – it can be stressful enough to not even feel any effects. So how can we nurture ourselves without having to go miles into the countryside, waste time and money?
Recently I started walking to my work though a road covered with trees. From the start I didn’t notice that what I was doing was forest bathing. I simply wanted to change up the way I was arriving to work to give myself a little excitement in a day. But after taking that route a couple of times, I noticed how very nurturing that place truly is.
It is interesting that no matter where you are, if you’re surrounded by trees, an HSP is more likely to feel better mentally and physically. On my ‘special route’ some trees are even growing from the middle of the pavement, and still I have a good sense of being in a forest despite that reminder that I’m in the middle of a town.
So this is what you can do to forest bath in the city or a town – you can find that one road, or that one park, that has lots of trees in it and go there a couple of times during the week. I would recommend to go there when there are least amount of people though, because then not only it will be not as noisy, but also the wildlife will be more active in those moments.
Other resources might suggest that hugging a tree also helps, but I haven’t tried that one yet. Although, what could work better, is to meditate with nature sounds of a forest on the background. Now this is a true bath – sitting down just to release accumulated stress of the day. And I believe that combining meditation with some essential oils of cedar and pine would help to immerse more fully.
Living in a busy environment really doesn’t help our highly sensitive brain. So we should try to find every possible way we can reduce our never ending cortisol levels. Forest bathing might be our best solution, but it is difficult to get around doing it. So I hope that I gave you at least an idea of what you could do even if you live in a town like me.
Thank you for reading this post, and I’ll see you this Saturday for a flash fiction piece to illustrate the world from the view of an HSP.