In Japan and South Korea the concept of Shinrin-yoku is very popular. Simply put it means ‘forest bathing’ or ‘nature bathing’, or the practice of ‘walking among trees’. This outdoor pursuit has been linked to the lowering of blood pressure, pulse rate and the levels of the stress hormone Cortisol.
Scientists are now keen to capitalise on the recent flurry of studies supporting nature’s relevance in our lives with a ‘green prescription’.
In a paper written by peers from the US and Sweden, researchers studied the ruminating behaviour of urban dwellers. Those who went for walks in nature showed less brain activity in centres responsible for depression, than those who didn’t.
Wondering why urban living increased rumination, the researchers came to the conclusion that city life, and its stressors and noise level, increases the inability to ‘switch off’, which isn’t the case in nature.