Enhanced forest bathing with a camper van, what the hell are you talking about I hear you say? I’m referring to the combination of the two things that help me de-stress and relax most in this crazy world: my camper van and shinrin-yoku.
Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese phrase meaning forest bathing. It refers to the activity of simply spending time outdoors under the canopy of trees and immersing oneself in the forest.
I recently discussed my love of the walking through my local woods with a friend and explained how therapeutic I found it after a stressful day, particularly if I left my mobile at home. I’d always feel refreshed and felt more relaxed. It was at this point that my friend introduced me to the concept of shinrin-yoku.
The concept is very simple, it’s about leaving behind technology, forgetting your thoughts from the day or any worries you may have and immersing yourself in the woods. Listening to the trees in the wind and the birds singing. Observing the colours of the trees and the sunlight shining through the branches. Smell the air, it might be the wild garlic or the damp earth. Touch the leaves, put your fingers or toes in the stream. You’ll be surprised at what you see, hear and feel. Let the sights and sounds lead you through the woods. There’s no need to preplan your route, let your senses lead you.
You’ll be amazed at how refreshed and reenergised you can feel after an hour in this calming and invigorating environment. In a time when we spend more and more time indoors, it’s essential to reconnect with nature away from modern day technology.
I became aware on a recent camper van trip how I managed to extend my forest bathing time by camping within the woods in my camper van. Walking through the woods remained the primary source of my shinrin-yoku but I found that time spent sat in the camper enjoying a cup of tea while observing the woods through the open sliding door also brought me much calm and peace. Lying in bed with the back door open watching and listening to the branches swaying in the wind was a wonderfully relaxing and calming experience.
Mindful exploration in a forest can help reduce high blood pressure, lower stress levels, boost your immune system and help improve concentration levels and memory. In fact, in Japan the government introduced shinrin-yoku as a national health programme!
If you’d like to learn more about shinrin-yoku then check out the books below ………..