Forest bathing, a free and natural anti-stress

Do you have the feeling to always be in rush hour mode? Are you feeling stressed? Are you feeling lack of energy? There is a natural way to get rid of stress and pressure… the “Shinrin-Yoku” or forest bathing in English. A relaxing moment in the heart of the forest that benefits both your mind and body. In this article, I will explain how this activity may recharge your batteries, just a stone’s throw away from home, in the Ardennes forests.

Get rid of stress naturally with forest bathing

I have the feeling to always be in rush hour mode. And while I sort of appreciate that, there comes a time when I feel like pressing the pause button. Do you know the feeling? I actually have a very simple remedy for that: wandering around in the Ardennes forests. I did not know there was actually a name for this: the “Shinrin-Yoku” or forest bathing in English. It is a natural way to let off steam and relax. The concept was created in the 80s by the Japanese government within the framework of preventive medicine. This activity is 100% free and easy to practice. It is about getting some fresh air during short or long trails in the woods. And believe it or not, this practice was widely studied in the Land of the Rising Sun. One study demonstrated that the subjects who practiced this activity showed diminished stress, heart rate and blood pressure. Another study showed that those subjects were less likely to be hostile or depressive after practicing such relaxation sessions. Because that is indeed what it is all about: a relaxation moment, away from day-to-day rush.

Taking time to take one’s time

In order to be effective, a break should last between 1h30 and 3h and be shorter than 6 km. You have got to go slowly at it, very slowly… All your senses must be alert: smell, touch, sight, hearing and even taste. You have got to be able to physically and mentally immerse yourself in that gigantic and peaceful nature. You have got to live in the here and the now. And in this respect, I advise you to let go of all things that could distract you… your smartphone is the first thing that comes to mind, but your camera too! Nature should not be viewed behind a screen. There is no use, however, to follow some training to practice Shinrin-Yokun.

Forest bathing in the Ardennes

I am very lucky to live on the range of the Great Forest of Anlier, a forest massif covering the municipalities of Habay, Léglise, Fauvillers and Martelange in the province of Luxembourg. During the autumn season, I just need to open my window to be able to hear the roaring of deers right from my bed (gives you a better insight of my daily environment?). That kind of sound always wakens up something inside me. I call that the “call of the forest”. When you live in the Ardennes, that call often resonates within you. Very often, after a long day’s work I put on my trainers to get some fresh air in the woods. What do I prefer? Climbing up a hill to observe the surroundings. From that kind of spot, there is a high probability to get a peek at a roe deer, a heron, a fox or a squirrel. Sounds cliché, doesn’t it? And yet, this is where I live. I even came to playfully wonder what animals I would meet every time I wander around in the middle of nowhere. Because that is indeed what I do: taking some time to just do nothing. Easy, natural and healthy!

My pieces of advice for successful forest bathing:

  • Activate all your senses: smell, touch, sight, earing and taste
  • Choose comfortable shoes and outfit
  • Leave your smartphone home as well as every device likely to disconnect you from your environment.
  • Take some breaks and admire nature
  • Live in the here and the now…

How do you feel about that? Feel like trying? Find a cozy corner in the Ardennes region and discover one of our most beautiful forest massifs!