Put down your phone and tune in to nature. The Japanese practice of forest bathing is scientifically proven to help relieve stress and improve health. Vancouver has an abundance of natural areas perfect for a relaxing and rejuvenating forest bathing session. #thisisvancouver
Be safe out there! Forest bathing can help you escape stress, but you don’t want to get lost. Bring a copy of the park map to stay on track. AdventureSmart recommends bringing a backpack with essential safety and first aid gear on every outdoor adventure. Check the forecast and pack extra clothing for the weather. Leave a trip plan so someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.
Scientific research has shown that forest bathing has many positive health effects including lowered stress, increased mood, and reduced fatigue. Known as shinrin-yoku in Japanese, it involves mindfully spending time in nature. Instead of rushing through a hike, participants slow down to sit and meditate or stroll quietly.
It’s amazing what you can experience in the forest when you engage all of your senses. Listen to birdsong and wind in trees. Watch squirrels jumping from branch to branch or a fern undulating in the breeze. Smell the damp soil after the rain or the woodsy smell of cedar branches. Run your fingers over rough granite stones or smooth salal leaves.
With pockets of nature scattered throughout the city, it’s easy to go forest bathing in Vancouver. Head to the wooded interior trails of Stanley Park to connect with nature and spot some huge trees. Or visit Pacific Spirit Regional Park near the University of British Columbia on Vancouver’s west side. It has a huge network of winding nature trails.
You can get deeper into the wilderness that surrounds Vancouver without breaking a sweat. Ride the Skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, then take a forest bathing stroll around the easy Blue Grouse Loop trail. Or head to Squamish to let the Sea to Sky Gondola whisk you up into the mountains above Howe Sound. Find a quiet spot along the Panorama Trail, then sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest.
If you’re up for more strenuous activities, a mountain-top forest bathing session is a great add-on to a hiking trip. If you’re new to hiking, start with easy destinations like Rice Lake, or Burnaby Lake. Or use one of our picks for the best wheelchair-accessible hike around Vancouver. Experienced hikers can tackle classics like Garibaldi Lake, the Stawamus Chief, or others on our list of the best epic hikes around Vancouver.
By Taryn Eyton
Source Inside Vancouver