Trees! Majestic, wonderful, magical trees! It’s possible you may have always had an inkling that trees are, generally speaking, a good thing. Turns out, you were right all along.
Once again, I have recently found myself unknowingly positioned at the vanguard of well-being trends. I have recently been reading up on studies done into a Japanese habit rather wonderfully referred to as “forest bathing”. Forest bathing is the growing trend of therapeutic exposure to nature and in particular trees and forests.
As I spend a lot of time at our "masia" – a 200-year-old farmhouse – in the mountains of Montseny, near Barcelona, I know only too well how relaxing it is walking through the dense green forest. For me, it’s about disconnecting (yes, I leave my phone in the house) and tuning into the smells and sounds of the forest. This is particularly special for me as I am really into aromatherapy, so the saps and herbs I smell while walking in the forest often inspire me, and were a major inspiration for the scents and oils we used in our natural skin care collection.
A large study into forest bathing in Japan found that “forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.” That basically means as well as calming you down, being down with the trees improves your ability to rest, digest and get it on. Your parasympathetic nervous system is what provokes sexual arousal and salivation. So forests are also romantic places. Ahem.
Seriously though, regular “doses” of forest environments have been proven many times to decrease depression and anxiety and to stimulate calm and well-being. And the health benefits are largely down to essential oils! Phytoncide, which are essential oils found in wood, plants and some fruit, are emitted by trees as they repel germs and insects. Studies into these oils show that they make the air in forests fresher and purer, and improve our immune system if we are exposed to them regularly.
Now I have been a long-time advocate of essential oils and aromatherapy. It’s no coincidence that the essential oils and plant and herb extracts we use to create our natural skin care products contribute in terms of their effect on skin and their aromatherapeutic qualities. I can’t spend all my time walking through the forest, but even when I am in the city, I can take some time out each day to massage some of our natural Balancing Face Oil into my face and neck, taking deep breaths and inhaling those plant and herb extracts and essential oils that help me relax and focus.
We are in the middle of summer, and while the beach might be tempting, why not try taking yourself off to a secluded forest and spending some time with the trees? We all know it’s relaxing to have a walk in the woods, but now you know it really does have a direct impact on your health. As part of a generally health-conscious lifestyle, we can get so wound up on what we are eating, or counting our steps. Turns out regular gentle forest walks might be the key in being calmer, more productive and feeling stronger and healthier!
Lucky for me I was doing it anyway.