Japanese 'forest bathing' therapy comes to The New Forest

Japanese 'forest bathing' therapy comes to The New Forest

Published by Mike Draper at 4:30am 19th January 2020.

3 minute read

In the last few years the east Asian practice has gained popularity in the UK, with its benefits now backed up by science.

The Japanese name for this therapy is 'Shinrin-Yoku'. Translated it means 'bathing in the forest atmosphere'. It began in 1982 in Japan as a treatment for stress-related health issues, following scientific studies conducted by the government.


The results showed that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve concentration and memory. They also found that trees release chemicals called phytoncides, which have an anti-microbial effect on human bodies, boosting the immune system. As a result, the Japanese government introduced 'shinrin-yoku' as a national health programme.

A view of the part of the New Forest which has introduced 'Forest Bathing'.
You can take part in 'Forest Bathing' and mindfulness walks in the New Forest.

'Forest bathing' is said to have the following benefits:

  • Boost your immune system
  • Reduce anxiety, anger and improve your mood
  • Improve concentration and memory
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve energy
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Make you feel happier
  • Improve cardiovascular and metabolic health


The National Trust is inviting you to come and relax, unwind and connect with your senses, with forest bathing sessions in the New Forest. It's introducing several forest bathing sessions to its Foxbury site in the New Forest. You can access Foxbury via the Half Moon car park, on Blackhill Road at East Wellow, Hampshire, SO51 6AQ


Several Nature therapy walks are taking place at Foxbury:

  • Sunday 19 January from 9am-11am
  • Sunday 16 February from 9am-11am
  • Sunday 15 March from 9am-11am
  • Sunday 19 April from 9am-11am
Low sun shines through trees in the New Forest at Bramshaw on a slightly frosty day.
CHILLING OUT: Similar 'Forest Bathing' events are also being held at Bramshaw.

Sam Lewis, a qualified forest bathing practitioner, Art Therapist, and Ecotherapist, will lead some of the walks. Sam has ten years' experience as a therapist working with all ages and abilities:

"These gentle guided walks allow participants the opportunity to simply be in nature and connect with their senses. A forest bathing session will help people to slow down and bring them to the present moment. It will help them to relax and unwind and become truly immersed in nature."

Jennifer Sutton, National Trust Community Ranger said:

"We're delighted to be able to offer these sessions, which can help people's health and wellbeing, as well as allowing them to foster a better understanding and protectiveness towards the natural world. It's wonderful to be working with Sam too - she's got such a wealth of experience and will be a great addition to our events programme."

Walks are slow paced and will cover 2 to 3km over 2 hours.  They cost £10.30 with a portion of the money going to the National Trust.


To take part in the Forest Bathing walks click on the Art Therapy Ecotherapy New Forest booking website here.

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