Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.


 

In times where anxiety and stress are at the forefront of our everyday lives, many of us turn to yoga, meditation or exercising in our living rooms to try and unwind.

But how often do we actually remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle, get outside and completely unplug? According to a recent survey commissioned by Mazda in March 2021, not that often.

Of the 1,000 Canadians surveyed, 90% of respondents felt that nature is great for their mental health and 87% said it reduces their stress levels — but over 80% wished they could spend more time in it.

And it's hardly surprising, since Mother Nature gives us a sense of peace and tranquillity that's hard to find anywhere else.

"Being in nature calms our senses. There are less dings, pings and rings from our devices and it can feel like a mini vacation. Simply put, there is less stress on our nerves, our nervous system and our brain when we connect with nature, and therefore less stress on our body," Nicole Porter, Stress Coach and Wellness Educator tells Narcity.

If your busy schedule has been getting in the way, you may find rest and relaxation in the little-known Japanese art of forest bathing, also known as forest therapy or shinrin-yoku.

If you've never heard of forest bathing before (only 15% of Mazda's survey respondents had), in its simplest terms, it's taking in the forest with only your senses.

It's being in nature and experiencing all it has to offer with your sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste. The magic of it is in its simplicity. Less is more.

If you're interested in trying out forest bathing, Mazda, a fellow product of Japanese ingenuity, want to help get you on the road back to nature.

Step Out Of Everyday Life & Into Your Body

The goal of forest bathing is to wander and let your body be your guide. Listen inwards to see where your legs want to take you, use your nose as a guide and take your time through it all.

This is a chance for you to forget about everything that may be bothering you or any stresses that you may be dealing with at work or in your personal life.

On a recent forest bathing trip, travellers Brie, Reuben and their son Oliver of vancitywild share how they get back to nature: "Once deep in the woods at Alice Lake Provincial Park, we tried to clear our heads and focus on each of our senses."

"The feeling of leaves beneath our feet, the sound of the rushing stream over mossy rocks, the birds in the trees rejoicing at the arrival of spring, the smell of fresh rain."

You Can Do It Pretty Much Anywhere

There are so many incredibly beautiful forests all across the country — from the Coastal Douglas-fir Forest in British Columbia to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick — where you can experience your first (or twentieth) forest-bathing adventure.

If you prefer to go off the beaten track, venturing into the depths of the forest is as easy as getting in the car and going for a drive.

You Can Do Whatever You Want

Just as your car can give you the freedom to go wherever you want, forest bathing frees you to do whatever you want. Embrace the chance to connect with nature in any way that you feel is right — this is your time.

You can wander around without a plan, you can practice yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, aromatherapy, tai chi or observe the plants. There's even an opportunity to do some art by bringing a few tools to paint a picture of what you're seeing.

The choice is yours, and that's the point.

Leave Your Phone In Your Car

It's become second nature to always have phones on hand, but resist the urge to bring your device on this outing. Lock your phone out of sight in your car and completely disconnect from technology as you experience everything that the forest has to offer you.

After all, how are you going to notice the sun shining through the trees and the little critters scurrying around if you're scrolling through Instagram or checking the news?

It's Not Meant To Be A Workout

Matt Hardy | Pexels

It's easy to lose the motivation to get outside when it seems like it's going to be hard work. While you may think stepping out into a forest requires a ton of effort, it's actually quite the opposite.

This is a chance for you to slow down, unwind and relax. There's nothing else for you to do here except peacefully exist outdoors with no distractions or stressors.

When you're ready to go home, Mazda's effortless handling will help you hang on to that zen a little bit longer.

There Are Guides To Assist You

If you're not sure how to start forest bathing, there are plenty of qualified guides that love to share their passion for nature. Not only will these guides assist you as you navigate through the forest, but they'll also help to find your ideal environment.

Maybe you feel best when you're by the water, or maybe it's where you can hear trees gently brushing together in the breeze. Whatever you enjoy, your guide will help you find your perfect spot.

Once you know your destination you can use the connectivity of your Mazda to get you into the forest bathing mood.

Sync up Maps, wirelessly charge your phone and play a soothing playlist (Mazda has the perfect one prepared) and arrive ready to soak up the tranquillity.

You Don't Need To Bring Anything

The best part about this mindfulness practice is that you don't need a single piece of equipment. Forest bathing requires only your body and your senses for you to reconnect with nature.

You don't even need a pair of shoes! Leave them in the car and walk barefoot through the grass if that's what feels right to you.

Forest Bathing Has Real Health Benefits

A number of studies have demonstrated the positive effects that immersion in nature, like forest bathing, can have on your physical and mental wellness.

It can reduce stress, improve your mood, inspire creativity, support your immune system, and help lower blood pressure.

Nicole Porter says: "With your nervous system calm, it means your body is in 'Rest and Digest' mode which brings with it a few key benefits such as improved digestion, immunity, cognitive health, memory and mood."

Take Your Time

Oksana Krasiuk | Dreamstime

One of the best things about forest bathing is that there are actually no rules. However long you want to spend in the forest is the right amount of time.

Mazda has your back whether you have a couple of hours or the whole weekend to spare.

Next time you feel anxious or stressed, consider forest bathing so you can escape and recharge, surrounded by all of the beauty that nature has to offer.

And no matter what forest you decide to immerse yourself in, Mazda can get you there in comfort, so the only thing you have to focus on is enjoying your experience.

For more stories, check out Mazda's Seeking Nature series.

To learn more about getting back to nature with the help of Mazda, check out their website or follow them on Instagram or YouTube.