Health, fitness and wellness

Do you take advantage of the wellness elements on your travels? Whether it’s an age-old ritual, a traditional therapy, a holistic treatment or an indigenous healing product, ‘Wellness Watcher’ brings you wellness ways from around the world.

Tree Hugging and Forest Bathing – Wellness Grows on Trees!

Wisteria, willow, birch & beech, trees decorate our landscapes and treat us to vivid displays of colour. Yet many of us don’t realise the therapeutic properties they provide and how important they are to our wellbeing.

Listen for the water trickling underfootMany believe trees offer a natural therapy for mindfulness and de-stressing. A stroll in the woods will tune you into your natural surroundings and set the stage for a spot of forest bathing! This trendy term originates from Japan where it is known as Shinrin-yoku, meaning “taking in the forest atmosphere”. It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive healthcare and healing in Japanese medicine.

In the early 1980s, Japanese scientists discovered that simply inhaling the aromas produced by trees could immunise the body against disease. Phytonicides, which trees emit to protect themselves from harmful insects and germs, have strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities when inhaled by humans. American medical research has proved that just being among trees is good for well-being, with stress levels and blood pressure lowered within three minutes of being in a green space.

Touching, stroking, leaning on and hugging a tree is beneficial to health. Given the term Silvotherapy, (from the latin Silva “woods”), this is the art of healing ourselves by harnessing the energy of ancient trees leading us to inner harmony and peace by deeper reconnection with Mother Earth. Give a tree a hug and feel the benefits of Mother NatureIt is practised in locations such as in the untouched vastness of the woods surrounding Sarek National Park in the far North of Sweden and the Italian Dolomites, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

So when you’re next near a wooded area take the time for some forest bathing. Witness those shards of light beams darting through the branches, take in the fresh smell of nature and listen to the birds in song. Tread slowly and with care over slippery moss and new growth. Feel the texture of the bark, watch for bushy tails scurrying along branches. Forget any problems or niggling negative thoughts, just listen to the moment. Be still and breathe.  Trees can do this.

From the bark to branches, traditions in Japan, Sweden and Italy, wellness does grow on trees.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Forest Holidays with a 10% reduction for all Silver Travellers.

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Jane Wilson

Founder & editor of the Wellness Traveller

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