May 24, 2021
You can’t deny that getting out into nature helps you feel better, plus it is usually associated with activities that involve that all important word, “fun”. The good news is that spending time in the great outdoors is not only fun, but good for the mind, body, and soul. Western medical research confirms this, with the likes of the Harvard Medical School advocating the five following reasons to get outdoors:
Confirming this Western approach, there is a wonderful Japanese practice called Shinrin Yoku, a Japanese phrase which means spending time in nature and in the company of trees – or forest bathing. Spicers Retreats offers a range of hiking experiences that incorporate forest-bathing, and it delivers such great benefits for our guests, we believe it is an integral part of the hike. Our guides encourage guests to let themselves soak up the experience of being surrounded only by tall trees, abundant greenery and the gentle noises of the forest. As you immerse into the sights and sounds of nature, you will feel the stress leave your body and really breathe out properly, without even thinking about it – you will feel just a great sense of calmness and serenity.
Forest bathing is gaining real traction in many cultures around the globe as a research-based methodology to promote physiological and psychological health benefits. This is not a new phenomenon for some cultures, as they have been practising forest bathing for many years – one such place is Japan’s neighbour, China with Sēnlínyù.
Sēnlínyù is Mandarin for “tree bathing.” Like Shinrin Yoku, the Chinese believe that spending time and walking through a forest and greenery helps to significantly reduce cortisol, the stress-inducing hormone. Many trees release phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are organic compounds that increase our autoimmune response to infection or sickness. In addition, research has shown that phytoncides improve insomnia, boost energy levels, increase attention span and help lower blood pressure.
Beyond Asia, in the Nordic area, Norway has a similar cultural connection with nature by way of a practice called Friluftsliv. Translated to English as “free air life”, Friluftsliv describes a lifestyle of exploring and appreciating nature. It carries real weight and gravitas – so much so that many Norwegian high schools include a Friluftsliv course as part of their school curriculum. Norwegian educators believe that by allowing children to play outdoors, this activity outside of the classroom, can help children’s minds and bodies de-stress and help them be their best selves physically, intellectually and emotionally.
At the heart of Spicers Retreats there is a true love for nature and the environment
We recognise the wonder, beauty and restorative nature of our natural environment. An essential part of any Spicers Retreats experience is the natural setting in which our Retreats are positioned. We believe in the health benefits of being in nature and each retreat has been purposefully created to allow guests to experience the natural beauty of their wonderful locations in subtle and understated luxury. We like to call it ‘relaxed luxury’ – our relaxed luxury and special natural settings are more than being just about a comfortable bed, quality furnishings, personalised service and great food; it’s about the feeling of being renewed and reinvigorated by the environment and nature itself.