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Forest bathing in Finland

When you're out and about in Finland, you can't help but go forest bathing. Even in cities like Helsinki or Turku, the forest is omnipresent. In this article I will tell you how you can delve even deeper into the forest with small exercises.


A sense of well-being emanates from this pine forest


Forest bathing


Have you ever taken a walk in the woods? But bathing in the forest? As a child, I used to swim in the forest every day. But I didn't know then that my free play and my hours of interest in everything I encountered there would recently be praised as so healing. In recent years, forest bathing has climbed into the top ten of natural healing methods in the ranking of work-life balance enthusiasts. In Japan, forest bathing is now even an integral part of health care. From my own experience I can say: Rightly so. Forest bathing is nothing more and nothing less than consciously staying in a forest to relax and strengthen your health. It is called "Shinrin Yoku" in Japan, which probably means something like 'big forest', 'small forest' with the addition 'bathing'. Or loosely translated: bathe in the atmosphere of the forest. Excursions to the forest are a tradition in Finland and at the same time part of everyday life for most Finns. 75 percent of the country is covered with forest. This makes Finland, next to Sweden, the most densely forested country in the European Union.

Unlike in German history, in which the forest was felt to be something dark and a source of uneasiness - if you disregard the exaggerations of romanticism - the forest traditionally offers the Finns a sense of security. And that is exactly what we are looking for in forest bathing. Regularly spending time in the forest can lower your stress levels and improve your mood. As if that weren't enough, a bath in the fresh forest air stimulates your immune system. The community of trees communicates with each other by releasing plant-specific chemical substances. They are carried through the air from tree to tree. They are called terpenes. Their information content prompts the trees, if necessary, to form substances to ward off diseases and predators. In short, they warn each other and activate their immune systems. In coniferous forests, which are mostly found in Finland, the proportion of terpenes is considerably higher than in deciduous forests. There is a broad consensus in research that terpenes also affect our immune system. Is not that crazy? You stroll through the forest, breathing the terpene-laden air and reacting to it with your own body. You could say that when we stay in the forest for a longer period of time, we communicate with the trees. My tip: Take your time, go into the forest and have a deeper conversation about your health!


Unlike in German history, the forest traditionally offers the Finns a sense of security.


Exercise 1


Arriving

Find a place in the forest where you feel comfortable. This can be a tree you lean against, a small clearing, a moss-covered spot you crouch on... Calm down and take in your surroundings. Look around and name 5 things you see. Listen into the forest and name 4 sounds you hear. Next, describe 3 sensations in your body. For example, how the ground feels under your feet or how you feel the wind on your cheeks. Then describe 2 smells that you perceive. And finally you describe the taste on your tongue. Take as much time as you need for this exercise. It helps you to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and sharpens your perception for the next step.


Exercise 2


Change of perspective

Lie on your back. Look up at the treetops above you. After a while you close your eyes. Count slowly to ten. Open your eyes and look up at the treetops again. Let your gaze wander from sheet to sheet. From one to the next and again to the next until you come across a nice branch. Follow him from your position with your eyes. If it crosses another branch, you can change direction and follow the new branch. Your gaze wanders through the canopy of the forest. After a while you slide over the branch to the trunk. As you hike down the trunk, try to sit up slowly and then come to a standing position. Of course you can also do this exercise in a coniferous forest ;-)



Exercise 3


Giving things a frame

For this exercise, find any spot in the forest. With four small branches, each about 40 cm long, lay a square frame on the ground in front of you. Look closely at things in the frame. What is there? Explore this small section extensively. Discover every detail and watch with interest. This can easily take 10 minutes. You can also take the frame home with you as a souvenir, tie it together and hang it on the wall or window near your desk. It's been my experience that when I look at him, I remember to focus on the things I'm doing at the moment.


And another tip


When moving to forest bathing in the forest, do it slowly. It's not about going through the forest as fast as possible, it's about taking your time. Do it at a snail's pace. You can spend an hour in one place or even better - I tell you, this is truly an extraordinary experience - a whole night! If you want to move faster through the forest, try to cover no more than a kilometer in one hour. Take a detour. Get distracted by beauty. Don't miss a tree.


Go through the world like Suvi - she has not forgotten how to marvel.


Take a detour. Get distracted by beauty. Don't miss a tree.

"In the beginning there was a white reindeer. From this the world emerged. Its heart still beats deep in the earth and gives it life. If you listen carefully, you can hear the heartbeat." (from a Sámi creation myth)


These beard braids need very clean air to breathe.


 

Nature facts


Clean Air

Did you know that Finland has the cleanest air in the European Union? You can find the cleanest air in Europe in Lapland, north of Kittilä, in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park.


Beard braids

In our forest there is a spruce tree with long beard lichen hanging from its branches (Bryoria genus). Lichens are organisms that live together in symbiosis. In this case a fungus together with algae. They only thrive in very clean air and they only grow 1-2 millimeters a year. The longest of our tree beards has a length of 20 cm. How old do you think he is?


 


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