What's the Deal With Forest Bathing and Earthing?

- By: Joshua Onysko

Raise your hand if upping your mental health game is more relevant than ever. It’s been a crazy year, and those of us who are used to shaking off stress with a far-flung getaway or frequent social gatherings have definitely been required to adapt. Putting down our devices and spending time outdoors has never been more important for remaining happy, healthy, and grounded.  

How Much Time In Nature Will Benefit Your Psychology?
In his article for Yale School for the Environment called Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your HealthJim Robbins states that it takes precisely 120 minutes “to get a dose of nature high enough to make people say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of well-being…”

The article goes on to say that, “(i)n a study of 20,000 people, … (those) who spent two hours a week in green spaces — local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits — were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. Two hours was a hard boundary: The study, published last June, showed there were no benefits for people who didn’t meet that threshold.”

According to Robbins, time in nature is an antidote for stress. He cites the following benefits:

- Lowered blood pressure and stress hormone levels

- Reduction of nervous system arousal

- Enhanced immune system function

- Increased self-esteem

- Anxiety reduction

- Improved mood

- Lessened Attention Deficit Disorder and aggression

- Rate of healing expedited

- Reduction of feelings of isolation

- Feelings of calmness increased

- General mood improvement

Forest Bathing
Apart from hiking, skiing, climbing, sailing, swimming and all other manner of outdoor recreation, there is a simple way to enlist nature to improve your mood and overall health.

In Japan there is a practice called Forest Bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Shinrin means “forest,” and yoku means “bath,” and shinrin-yoku translates to “bathing in the forest atmosphere.” Another way to put it is that Forest Bathing is taking in the forest through the senses.

Forest Bathing is different from exercising in the outdoors. It is simply absorbing nature through sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. When you are Forest Bathing, it is important to leave your phone and camera behind. The point is to walk aimlessly and slowly. This practice is not for social media; it is for you. You are taking time to let the soft animal of your body be your guide. Your job is to listen to where it wants to go. Follow your nose, and take your time. Don’t worry about getting somewhere. Forest Bathing is a reset for your physical, mental, and emotional systems. By practicing this, you let nature heal you.

The most beautiful thing about Forest Bathing is that you don’t need an actual forest; you can Forest Bathe anywhere there are trees or a garden! No matter the weather, and regardless of whether you are in a city, the mountains, or beach (and all landscapes in-between), you can do shinrin-yoku.  It is about plugging into the frequency of nature with your undistracted awareness.  That's it. Simply find a place where there are trees… and just wander.

Earthing (also known as Grounding)
Earthing is a wildly simple practice, and can be done anywhere there is bare earth: all it requires is that you stand barefoot or lie down on the ground in a place where you are directly connected, such as grass, dirt, or sand, and there is not a concrete barrier.

The premise is this: we all wear shoes with non-conductive, usually rubber, soles that insulate our bodies from the earth. Our ancient ancestors either walked barefoot or had shoes with leather soles that became conductive when they were wet with sweat from our feet. Like in a cable system, standing on the earth barefoot, or lying on it without a barrier, neutralizes any electric charge in the body. Most of us don’t receive this discharge on a regular basis, and this creates inflammation within the body.

To receive the full benefits of Earthing, it must be done for at least 30 minutes per day. Its benefits include:

- Pain and inflammation reduction

- Improved sleep

- Reduced anxiety and stress

- Mood improvement

Scientific studies have shown that this simple practice also allows us to discharge adrenaline, so we get out of the cortisol loops most of us are used to maintaining, and are better able to achieve parasympathetic states within our nervous systems, rather than staying in “fight or flight.”

Alpine Provisions Scent Profiles
The organic Essential Oil Blends that scent our Castile Body Wash, Hand Sanitizers, Haircare, Deodorant, Lip Balm, Bar Soap, Hand Soap, and more are inspired by our favorite places in nature. They are designed to elicit a mini experience of shinrin-yoku or Earthing each time you use them. For example:

- Fir + Sage elicits the feeling of a high alpine adventure where the air is crisp and the sun and wind smells like pine trees

- Lavender + Juniper takes you to a Mediterranean garden in the Provencal countryside

- Rosemary + Mint is bracing and refreshing, like walking beside a cold, rushing river in the Pacific Northwest

- Vetiver + Sage is spicy and grounding, like lying on uncut grass on a warm day

- Cedar + Sandalwood is woodsy and earthy like the red rock deserts of the American Southwest

Our Commitment to the Mental Health of Future Generations
One of the most profound gifts we can give our youth is time in the outdoors. Many kids have no access to vast, raw wilderness and the life-shaping perspective that comes from experiencing it firsthand. We believe that when young people get to know and appreciate the beauty of nature, it shapes them to become conscious leaders within their own communities.

Our future truly depends on the future generations’ ability to understand the world around them. For this reason, Alpine Provisions has partnered with the Colorado Outward Bound School to provide young adults with scholarships for three-week outdoor leadership programs in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Utah, Alaska, and Wyoming. A percentage of all our sales go into this scholarship fund.