Forest Bathing and Coronavirus

13th March 2020 - Written by Carmichael McKelvey

As the fear of Coronavirus sweeps the globe, many people wonder what can be done to protect themselves and their communities. Of course vitamin supplements and health-boosting juices are a good idea, but there is another, often overlooked way to increase well being: spending time with nature. Forest Bathing is the Japanese concept of mindfully enjoying time in a forest, which has been proven to decrease stress, improve sleep, and boost the immune system (take that, Coronavirus).

In their article “Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health,” the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation outlines the positive physical benefits of forest immersion. This article states that we breathe in chemicals called phytoncides while in a forest. Plants produce phytoncides to protect themselves from insects and other pests. Human exposure to these chemicals increases our bloodsream’s concentration of Natural Killer (NK) cells, which are responsible for defending us against viruses. It is also stated in this article that spending time in a forest lowers our amount of stress. According to Psychology Today, increased stress is known to decrease immune system activity (see the bottom of the page for sources). Forest exposure protects us from disease in two different ways- increasing NK cells and decreasing stress levels.

Forest Bathing is an especially effective kind of forest exposure. In her article “Forest Bathing Improves Our Overall Performance & Immune System,” blogger Melissa Kiss outlines the positive benefits not only of exposure to the forest, but of mindful forest exposure. Melissa states that mindful activities like barefoot grounding and mindful walking in a forest not only boost our immune system, but increase our connection to other people and to nature around us. 

The Brackenhurst indigenous forest provides a space to spend a day walking, picnicking, and bird watching. Along with this, the forest helps your body fight against diseases. If you want to take it a step further, you can try forest bathing by walking barefoot and focusing your attention on the nature around you. Stay safe and come enjoy the forest!