A group of tech workers recently took part in the first ever “Unplug and Recharge in Nature” forest bathing in the U.S. The ancient Japanese practice was used as a medical treatment for a host of conditions. It has now found its way into the U.S. and may just revolutionize modern medicine – and work – as we know it.
The first ever “Unplug and Recharge in Nature” was organized by the Wilderness Awareness School in a remote 40 acres of forested land just outside the high tech corridor that’s home to Microsoft and Amazon. The group had opted to come to the woods as an alternative to their daily routines that involved being exposed to computers and smartphones for almost their whole days.
Through being part of nature, they sought to counter the noise of the virtual world with the serenity of mother nature in what is known as ‘forest bathing.’
The practice of forest bathing started in Japan some thirty years ago. Called Shinrinyoku, the practice is a traditional foray into natural medicine where walking in nature and spending time alone in the forests is used as a stress reliever.
Today, the practice is slowly finding its way to the U.S. Santa Rosa, Calif. is home to America’s first Shinrinyoku organization. A similar organization, Earthwalk Ways, in Fredericksburg, Va., offers “forest therapy” as part of its treatment modes.
Recent studies have found that “bathing” in nature does lower stress levels, boosts the immune system, leads to a better mood, higher self esteem, physical fitness, creativity, memory, attention and other benefits. Psychologists are now offering eco therapy as a treatment while pediatricians such as Dr. Robert Zarr are including it as a prescription to patients.
According to Warren Moon, executive director at Wilderness Awareness School, “It’s kind of funny that we have to have a ‘fad’ to get us to do what humans have always done – go outside.”
Indeed, recent studies have shown that Americans are spending practically all their lives “logged in.” Americans are spending as much as five to seven hours a day checking screens from computers and smartphones.
The forest bathing group of a dozen was no different. One worker revealed she received an average of 10,000 emails a day. Another said she spent over 18 hours a day online. After spending a full day in nature, they were all in agreement that it offered the best remedy for the stresses of today’s virtual world. One participant, Michele Martaus, said “I feel like I’m seeing things for the first time.”
Moon suggested all Americans should find “sit spots” for themselves just near their homes to be alone with mother nature. Through the practice, all Americans could find a way of relieving their ever-mounting stress naturally.