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My friend Wendy and I set off on a drizzly cool summer day for an 8 mile hike in the Cascade mountain range. About an hour or so up the trail, we came across the most amazing mushroom bloom within a bright green moss covered tree.
We stopped to thoroughly check out this tree and ended up spending an hour sitting there and exploring and looking around the immediate area. It was glorious. Lately, whenever I can make time for day hikes, I’m training for longer backpacking trips and the experiences can feel more like work than play.
Stopping to ‘smell the roses’ or rather mushrooms, reminded me why I love being in nature so much. It was so inspiring and relaxing to spend extended time just looking and being and thinking and appreciating. Turning what was supposed to be an 8 mile training session into a short hike with extended looking and being time was incredible.
Originating in Japan, Shinrin-Yoku is the practice of forest medicine, the act of being in nature to improve one’s health. There it started in the 1980’s but I would argue the practice goes back much further. Our ancestors who lived a simpler (less tech-focused) life surely appreciated many benefits of being in nature and being closer to the land.
We both attest it was one of our favorite days. And there’s science to back us up on this, studies show areas with more greenspace have less crime and people with happier dispositions.
People in hospital rooms that have a window facing something green, like a tree, heal faster and check out sooner than those that don’t look at nature during recovery. There are a myriad of health benefits from boosting the immune system to mood enhancement.
Eventually we got cold and had to keep moving. Since we were so in the spirit of forest bathing by that point, we didn’t go far before we stopped for lunch and spent another hour taking in all the minute detail…. the colors, the textures, the sounds (and lack of city sounds), and smells all made for an incredible impression that uplifted our mood and calmed our souls.
The satisfied smile here on my friend Wendy’s face perfectly sums up this experience. Even on a cool drizzly day, forest bathing (or time in a nearby park or stepping outside to look up at a tree) will change your outlook on life.
When you can’t get out in nature, there’s always jewelry to remind you of the experience! Studies also show having a token or image reminder of time spent outside can prolong the benefits.
Here, Wendy is wearing my everyday leaf hug earrings and split bar necklace from my Resilient Collection. You can read more about this series and how it was inspired by a volcano and overcoming adversity here.
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