Forest bathing is an activity we can all benefit from...and you can do it in the incredible woodlands all around the farm at Kittisford Barton.
Forest Bathing is a term that has been rising in awareness over the last few years. There is no doubt that people have been using the calm of a woodland and the sounds, sights and smells to connect with nature and to gain a feeling of peace for eternity, however now it is becoming an activity that people are actively seeking to do.
True forest bathing (or 'shinrin-yoku' as it is known in Japan, where the practice originates), involves removing the technology, cameras and phones that we typically carry with us everywhere, and taking time to immerse our senses in amongst the trees. Dr Qing Li, author of 'Forest Bathing: How trees can help you find health and happiness' suggests that the key is to use all five senses. To touch the bark of a tree, to see the leaves blowing in the wind, to hear the birds tweeting or the rustling of autumn leaves, to smell the aromas of soil, flowers, moss and to taste the freshness of the air as you take slow deep breaths. There is scientific evidence that the phytoncides (natural aromas) released by plants can improve immune function and that time spent forest bathing has been shown to reduce stress hormones and lower blood pressure when compared to city environments.
When it comes to childrens health there is also evidence of great benefits to being outdoors, and our woods are perfect for that too. Den building, fairy hunting, tree climbing, learning about animal tracks and shapes of leaves on the different trees are just some things you could do in the woods with your children - but I bet they could think of lots more!
From Woodpecker Woods at the top of our farm to the woodland running alongside the bathealton stream at the bottom we hope you will take the opportunity to try forest bathing while you are here. In spring time there is wild garlic to forage (wild garlic pesto recipe from the Woodland Trust here!), and through late summer and autumn there are berries to forage and crumbles to make!
So come and have a go at Forest Bathing, and if you want to read up on it first then have a look at some of these recommended books:
Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest-Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness - Dr Qing Li
Forest Therapy Seasonal Ways to Embrace Nature for a Happier You - Sarah Ivens
National Trust: Go Wild in the Woods: An Adventure Handbook - Goldie Hawk and Rachael Saunders
Forest School Adventure: Outdoor Skills and Play for Children - Dan Westall and Naomi Walmsley