RUN (to the) FOREST.... RUN!

Hot off the press... spending time in a woodland environment could be the answer to less stress, and a calmer disposition. ‘Forest Bathing’, also know as Shinrin-yoku, is a form of nature therapy that originated in Japan. It involves deliberately immersing yourself in nature, as a way to draw on the therapeutic powers of plants, trees and general fresh air and technological disconnect. Among other benefits, reconnecting with the natural environment in this way is an effective way to recalibrate... especially when it comes to breathing. Breathing might seem like one of the most basic activities (breathe in... breathe out, right?), but a surprising number of us are doing it wrong! As a general rule, we tend to shallow breathe (or ‘chest breathe’ as it is also know.) Habit, stress and slouching all play a part, with many and varied knock on effects on health. These side effects mainly stem the cyclical state of stress that chest breathing triggers (stress causes shallow breathing, and shallow breathing causing stress). The potential symptoms including anxiety, stress, fatigue, headaches and tension, to name but a few! So how SHOULD we be breathing? Well, diaphragmatic breathing is the only way to go! If you want to observe this kind of deep breathing in action, you only need to watch how a newborn breathes (so say Headspace ). Babies naturally practice diaphragmatic breathing, which sees the belly expand, and the chest rise as air in inhaled. This way of breathing can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, relax muscles, decrease stress, and increase energy levels. As today is World Breathing Day, why not press the reset button and indulge in a spot of Forest Bathing... or ‘Forest Breathing’ as it should maybe be called in this case. . As a grounding exercise, it can be transformational, and for anyone suffering from overwhelm... the change of scene (if nothing else) can be a breath of fresh air!