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Why is spending time in nature so good for you?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The idea that spending time in nature is good for your health is not as far fetched as it sounds. Originating in the 1980s in Japan, the idea is known as "shinrin-yoku" (森林浴), which translates into english as "forest bathing". Here, we might just call it going for a walk, a hike or just spending time outdoors. The general philosophy can be broken down into simple terms: if a person spends time in a natural area; walking, meditating, or thinking, there are many restoring benefits that can be reaped.


I think this is something that we have always known, even if it's just in our subconscious. From a young age, parents are always instinctively advising their children to go outside, to "get some fresh air." It's no surprise that being active is good for your health, but shinrin-yoku goes beyond the physical benefits to say the exposure to the forest itself is the medicine.

 

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  • As an all-inclusive health spa, it's our goal to reduce stress in every way possible. It's not just the relaxing spa treatments, meditation classes and lounge areas that achieve this goal. We are also located on nearly 500 acres of rolling hills, with trails ranging from one to three kilometres long, wrapping and winding through the bucolic countryside. Guests are encouraged to use this space however it suits them best. Hiking, snowshoeing, finding a quiet spot, or joining our daily guided walks. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses. It’s not only stress levels you are affecting, spending time outdoors can also lead to reductions in anger, anxiety and depression.
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Studies have been done to support the beneficial claims of shinrin-yoku. These studies have demonstrated that their participants had reductions in stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. The exposure to nature positively creates calming neuro-psychological effects through changes in the nervous system. There are a wide range of scientific theories that link the mental benefits that nature can provide, ranging from clean breathing air and lack of noise pollution to the immune-boosting effects of a fine mist of "wood essential oils." This unusual theory of wood essential oils was proposed by Japan’s Nippon Medical School, who proved that forest walks enhance your immune functions and reduce levels of stress hormones and blood pressure when compared to similar walks in downtown districts.


Regardless of your belief in these studies, the subtle benefits of spending time in nature can be obvious. If you think about it on a smaller scale, simply having the ability to look out of a window at work or at home can produce some of the same effects. We are mediated by what we hear and see. By contrast, imagine yourself in traffic, surrounded by cars and honking horns. This hectic atmosphere demands you to constantly exert your attention and is fatiguing. 

 

 

Nature is gentle, the way the trees sway, the birds sing, the wind whistles and the creek trickles, it only tugs, but never grabs at our attention. In the forest you're away from loud noises and distractions, giving your mind a chance to wander aimlessly and be engaged on a subconscious level by your surroundings. 

We suggest that you spend more time in nature and not just while you're here with us at the spa. The benefits you will experience include:

 

• Increased energy levels

• Improved sleep

• Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness

• Reduced stress and blood pressure

• Boosted immune system

• Deeper and clearer intuition 

 

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. - Robert Louis Stevenson