Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy..

Lainey Piland photo

Do you know that feeling where, after emerging from the woods after a hike or leisurely stroll, you find yourself relaxed and refreshed rather than tense and anxious as you were to begin with? You might feel exhausted, but this is a pleasant and full sensation, not the draining, energy-sapping one we're most familiar with. Intoxicated by the sharp fragrance of crushed pine needles and with the damp forest air still clinging to hair and clothing, we emerge back into "reality" with renewed purpose.

As it turns out, this phenomenon has a name: shinrin-yoku, which means "forest bathing" in Japanese.  Forest bathing. This isn't a phrase we ever hear in the United States, but anyone who has spent time hiking in the woods knows intuitively what it means.

Check out this Mother Nature Network (MNN) article on forest bathing, and relax as you scroll through the stunning photos of diverse forests around the world.

The forest at Saint Edward State Park. One of my favorites to "bathe" in! Lainey Piland photo

Daylight saving time has unfortunately cut short the time available each day to bask in the great outdoors. However, as the MNN article mentions, the benefits of forest bathing are derived not only from physically being outdoors, but largely from the phytoncides (plant pheromones) in the air, and these same phytoncides can be found in plants such as tea tree, oak, and pine (perhaps this is why we love the smell of Christmas trees in our homes?).

So, how can we enjoy the benefits of forest bathing without actually being in the forest? If you're lucky enough to have some trees around, open up the windows in your house on those windy autumn evenings to allow the fresh phytoncide-filled breeze to refresh your home.  As you're doing the inevitable post-windstorm yard cleanup, take deep breaths of those fragrant pine branches as you carry them to the yard waste cart by the armload. And, if you don't mind the strong aroma, be sure to cook your dinner with onions and garlic, because these plants also have large amounts of phytoncides. Ah, the benefits of a long forest hike... found in a bulb of garlic. Who knew?

But of course, you should take advantage of every available opportunity to actually spend time outdoors.  Go for a hike.  When it comes to the physical and emotional benefits of nature... nothing beats the real thing.

Lainey Piland photo

No comments:

Post a Comment