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Forest medicine: Tree therapy heals us for free

Updated: Jul 3, 2022

Do you ever get a feeling of calm while around trees, especially after a busy workday? As we spend more time indoors and on our devices these days, being in nature is a welcome break. But there is a chemical basis for the calming feeling we get from trees. It is a free, scientifically proven therapy known as forest bathing.

To practice it, you just need to be around trees and take in the environment, whether walking in the woods or having a picnic under a tree. The name derives from Japan, where it’s called ‘shinrin-yoku’. Nature-based therapy has existed there for thousands of years, but the term was coined in the 1980s when the Japanese government encouraged citizens stressed with work to walk in the country’s vast woodlands. Since then, it’s become popular across the world and studies on the health benefits have grown. Millions of dollars have been spent on research showing how walking in forests can improve our wellbeing.