There is an easy way to relieve our daily stresses from work, school, technology, and the Covid pandemic. The answer is a walk in the woods. The naturalist John Muir once said “Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.”
A long walk in the woods can be a reboot for your mind. In the forest you can eliminate distractions. You can give all your attention to the plethora of details as you walk. Smell the freshness of the air, listen to the calls of the birds or the wind through the trees, notice the various colors of the moss, lichen, and fungi, find the tiniest of insects, or just embrace the silence. Be “present” in the woods.
The Germans have a long tradition of recuperation and wellness in the woods called Waldeinsamkeit which translates to “forest loneliness”. This is literally used as a cure for daily stresses and hectic work schedules. In the 19th century, “forest bathing” came into use as a form of therapy in which patients were isolated in the woods in order to focus on the mind and body. This form of therapy is a precursor to the contemporary practice of mindfulness. In the 1980s, the Japanese popularized the practice of “forest bathing” calling it Shinrin-yoku.
I recently visited southwestern Wisconsin staying in a cabin in the woods. I experienced Waldeinsamkeit and felt so refreshed when I returned home a few days later. So I wanted to share this form of a mental reboot. Wisconsin has wonderful state parks and forests to start “forest bathing”. This is a list of books to help get you started.
Bathing in the forest by Nivola Uyá (available through CountyCat)
This beautifully illustrated picture book emphasizes the importance of connecting with nature and its healing power.
Forest Bathing: how trees can help you find health and happiness by Qing Li (available through CountyCat)
“A guide to the therapeutic Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, demonstrates how it can reduce stress levels, improve the immune system, and promote health and happiness, and includes more than one hundred photographs from forests around the world.”
“Forest Therapy offers practical steps and inspiration to tap into nature's restorative power, no matter the season or the weather.”
I Love Dirt is a fun collection of interactive activities to get children outdoors and engaging with nature.
“Let's Play Outdoors! is for a new generation of environmentally conscious children, showing them how to interact with their surroundings in a meaningful way. The activities suggested inspire independent learning about animals, plants, and the weather, as well as how to look after the world.”
“There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather is a fascinating personal narrative that highlights the importance of spending time outdoors, and illustrates how the Scandinavian culture could hold the key to raising healthier, resilient, and confident children in America".
Back to blogs