Let's face it: Getting out into the fresh open air is a lot harder than it seems. Between taking care of the kids, running a household, and holding down a stressful job, who has time to step outside? Fortunately, there is now a way to enjoy the outdoors without leaving your office: Indoor forest bathing.
What is forest bathing?
Before you get too freaked out, forest bathing has nothing to do with nudity — or even bathing, for that matter. The term "forest bathing" (also known as shinrin-yoku) originated in Japan and refers to what many are calling forest therapy, aka immersing yourself in a natural environment.
Forest bathing became a thing in the '80s and has become a major health trend since. The concept takes everything into account, including the sights, sounds, smells, and textures one encounters while walking through a forest.
How to Forest Bathe at Work
You're probably wondering how it's possible to achieve this kind of serenity while you're at home or at work. Well, it's simple, really: If you don't have a forest where you can casually hang out, just imagine one. (Yes, really.)
Stop rolling your eyes and hear us out: One of the most compelling forest bathing stories ever recorded didn't happen in a forest; it happened in an office. Gary Groesbeck, BCIAC, a psychologist and Integral Awakened Mind practitioner, claims he was guiding a client through meditations while measuring her brainwave activity. During the session, Groesbeck asked the woman to imagine herself walking through a forest. He then noticed that the woman's brainwaves were forming the shape of a circle, which according to Groesbeck means she'd reached a heightened state of consciousness (the "evolved mind") — something only yogis are known to achieve.
“What many people may not realize is that they can reconnect to this feeling of oneness with nature any time they want,” Groesbeck told Bodhi Tree. “Because what we’re connecting with in the forest also resides within us.”
Here are a few ways to "connect with the forest" while you're at work:
Practicing deep breathing is important. While you're at work, stop for five minutes and take a "breathing break" when you need it: Five seconds in, five seconds out. Groesbeck also advises keeping a little potted plant on your desk. If that's too out there for you, focusing on a green space out the window or simply imagining a forest will help you relax.
2. If possible, take advantage of natural lighting.
Natural lighting is a great way to connect with nature when you're stuck in an office. If you work from home, sit near a window or invest in a few task lamps, advises New York City-based architect Carolyn DiCarlo. If you feel drained just simply sitting at your desk, you're doing it wrong. Let the light in!
3. Create your own experience.
The focus of forest bathing is to immerse yourself in a multi-sensory experience, according to Amos Clifford, founder of Shinrin-Yoku.org and Sky Creek Dharma Center in Chico, California.
“Our forest guides are trained in 14 senses — not just five— that are readily available while on the path," Clifford said. To have your very own sensory experience, Clifford advises to “Brew herbs from your own garden to connect to a sense of place, and just take a moment in gratitude."
Or, you know, just pull out the herbal tea, enjoy the aroma, and give yourself a minute or two to simply relax.