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weLOG#41 The Healing Power of Forest Bathing

In a world where stress and anxiety have become ubiquitous companions, the concept of forest bathing emerges as a beacon of hope, offering solace and rejuvenation amidst the chaos of modern life. Drawing from a rich tapestry of scientific research, let’s delve into the profound health benefits of immersing oneself in the tranquility of the forest.


Shinrin-yoku, the art of forest bathing, traces its roots to Japan in the early 1980s. Developed as a response to the increasing urbanization and stress of modern life, shinrin-yoku emerged as a therapeutic practice aimed at reconnecting individuals with the healing power of nature. Inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist traditions that revered the natural world, shinrin-yoku emphasizes the importance of mindful immersion in the forest environment. Originally proposed by the Japanese government as a public health initiative, shinrin-yoku has since gained recognition worldwide for its profound physical and mental health benefits.


Numerous studies have elucidated the tangible physiological effects of forest bathing. Researchers have observed a significant reduction in cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone, among individuals who engage in this practice. Furthermore, spending time in nature has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.


Beyond its physical benefits, forest bathing has garnered attention for its positive impact on mental health. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology revealed that participants who engaged in nature walks reported significantly lower anxiety and rumination levels than urban walks. The immersive experience of being surrounded by the forest's sights, sounds, and scents fosters a sense of calm and mindfulness, alleviating the burden of mental distress.


Moreover, emerging research suggests that forest bathing may enhance cognitive function and creativity. A study conducted by psychologists at the University of Utah found that exposure to nature improved performance on tasks requiring attention and problem-solving skills. The restorative effects of nature not only replenish our mental reserves but also unlock the doors to our creative potential.


The therapeutic effects of forest bathing are not merely anecdotal; they are grounded in rigorous scientific inquiry. Phytoncides, the organic compounds emitted by trees, have been identified as one of the key mechanisms underlying the health benefits of forest bathing. These compounds exhibit antimicrobial properties and stimulate the production of natural killer cells which are a critical component of well-functioning immune system.


As we reflect on the profound impact of forest bathing, let us not overlook the simple yet profound wisdom of reconnecting with nature. In the midst of our bustling lives, the forest beckons as a sanctuary of serenity and healing. By embracing this ancient practice, we honor the innate bond between humanity and the natural world, finding solace, inspiration, and a renewed sense of vitality amidst the whispering trees and gentle rustle of leaves. So, let us heed the call of the forest, embarking on a journey of self-discovery and well-being, one step at a time amidst the timeless embrace of nature's sanctuary.

AROUND THE WORLD 🌏

by Kenny


TIME PASSES SLOWLY

A new study shows that the melting of polar ice caused by climate change, is causing Earth to spin slightly slower. This melting causes a shift in mass distribution which affects the planet's rotation speed. The study indicates that climate change has enough of an impact on the Earth’s rotation to counteract a recent trend of faster spinning. The study, led by Duncan Agnew from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, suggests that the influence of climate change on Earth's rotation counters a previous trend of faster spinning. This change could impact how we measure time. 

The article underscores the impact of melting polar ice on Earth's systems and the urgent need to address climate change to mitigate its consequences. 



TREES HELD HOSTAGE

The article reports a surge in deforestation in the Colombian Amazon and could be at a historic peak. According to the data, deforestation was higher by 40% year-over-year. This is a result of armed groups gaining control over the rainforest and simply put, holding the forest hostage. 

Peace negotiations with the government have led to armed rebels using deforestation as leverage. Despite prior efforts to combat deforestation, the trend has reversed due to armed groups lifting bans on forest clearing and allowing land grabbers to use the area as they fit, in an attempt to gain more favorable negation terms. 

This has led to significant loss of forest, the displacement of local communities, deaths, and disruption of government initiatives to protect the forest.  


BEAUTIFUL WASTE

Indonesian artist Ari Bayuaji has innovated a new upcycled material called ArtWeave. This material utilizes discarded fishing gear, known as "ghost gear," and transforms it into refined textile art. His project is called "Weaving the Ocean," and not only addresses sea pollution but is also a revival of Bali’s traditional textile techniques and supports local women's autonomy in the process. 

ArtWeave has gained global recognition, featuring in exhibitions across four different continents with 14 shows in major cities such as Bangkok, Sydney and Washington.  

Bayuaji's approach represents a shift in perspective towards waste, highlighting its potential as a new natural material. Through collaborations with local communities, Bayuaji creates economic opportunities while raising awareness about environmental issues. Through his work, Bayuaji demonstrates a creative solution to otherwise “ugly” waste and transforming it into a thing of beauty.

WHAT WE'RE READING


  • ‘You can’t love something that isn’t there’  Read here

  • Cicadas: nature’s weirdos Read here

  • G7 reaches deal to exit from coal by 2035 Read here

  • Switzerland's climate inaction violated human rights Read here

  • Want an elephant? Botswana’s president says his country has too many Read here

  • It’s tough to be a wild orchid Read here




There you have it, dear friends!

Till next time!


Joanna Arai

💛


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