La Prensa MedicaISSN: 0032-745X

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How the practice of Shinrin Yoku can be used safely and effectively in spa & wellness, hotel and medical environments as a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) to promote nature therapy, enhance the wellbeing, speed up recovery and create unique value propositions

As more and more technology and medical advancement are being introduced into our lives, people find it hard to disconnect and reignite our innate healing abilities. Many of us who live in urban areas spend more time under artificial lights in an office. It is hard to connect with nature on a daily basis and we are more likely to learn about wildlife ironically from National Geographic channel than from a walk in the woods.

Shinrin Yoku ( 森 林 浴 ) or forest bathing has become a vital part of preventative and complementary healthcare in Japan. The results of Japanese studies have shown forest bathing improves sleep quality, mood and ability to focus, and reduces stress levels. Chronic stress can contribute to the development of ailments like anxiety, depression, and insomnia, to name a few. It can also contribute to physiological problems, like high blood pressure, muscle tension, and lowered immune response. Spending time in nature, away from modern technology and the hustle and bustle of big cities can improve your physical, mental and even spiritual health by reducing the effects of stress on your body and fostering nature connectedness. Prescribed forest bathing in Japan has led to a healthier lifestyle for people of all ages and reduced medical expenditure..

Shinrin-yoku involves spending time in a natural environment or specifically in a forest environment to improve one’s health and well-being. This traditional Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature by mindfully using all five senses and exposing oneself to natural stimuli such as the ground, blowing wind, flowing river in a forest environment, is regarded as a health promotion strategy[1-2]

Individuals living and interacting in green spaces report being more energetic, in good overall health and, have more of a sense of meaningful purpose in life [3]. Current scientific findings are illuminating what humans intuitively know: nature has great benefits for the human brain and this is shown through increased happiness, health/well-being and cognition [4]

Forest bathing leads to achieving a state of relaxation, resulting in a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, a release of stress, and a boost to the immune system, all of which facilitate recovery from trauma or illness [5-8].

At the time of writing, the practice of Forest Bathing is still under the radar and has mostly been adopted by independent wellness practitioners. Post Covid-19, it is time for large-scale wellness sanctuaries, international hotel chains and medical establishments to look beyond mainstream treatments and start to incorporate nature therapy into their preventive practices and treatment plans.

This presentation discusses the physiological and psychological effects of Shinrin Yoku, how wellness and medical professionals could incorporate Shinrin Yoku safely and effectively, at a low cost, into their practices and how these establishments can improve quality of life and bring about holistic experience of nature connection to their clients or patients, enhance their value propositions and gain new segment of clientele through Shinrin Yoku.

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