Why Everyone Should Be Green Bathing Right Now Before Summer Ends
I come from Swansea, South Wales. My childhood consisted of swimming in the sea and going on hikes. It was common to nip down the beach after school or go for a quick stroll in the endless woodlands. This access to surplus nature was something I took for granted. After my A-Levels, I took a big leap and moved to Liverpool to attend university, a 5-hour train journey away.
The urban landscape wasn’t something I was used to, and it was amazing to be in such a cultural hub. Everything exciting seemed to happen in Liverpool, from pop up club nights, buzzing independent coffee shops and more people than I’d ever encountered before. The city welcomed me with open arms and to this day I still can’t help but beam when a Scouse lady says, “you alright babe?”. Liverpool’s friendliness immediately put me at ease. One thing that has struck me from living in the city is the search for green spaces; luckily Liverpool has plenty of those which provide a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
According to the World Health Organisation (2016), urban life is associated with chronic stress and therefore access to green spaces can provide psychological relaxation and stress alleviation. There are numerous positive outcomes from being in nature; some of the most notable are improved sleep, reduction of negative emotions and even improving social cohesion. In Japan, the practice of being within nature is called 'Shinrin-yoku' which means bathing in a forest atmosphere. The practice of Shinrin-yoku is described as a bridge between humanity and nature.
With all of this in mind, I decided to try Forest Bathing for myself; or the closest I could get to it. During one lunch break, I headed to my local woodland area, in the shadow of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. I sat under a tree and looked up amongst the sunlit green leaves. I was in awe at how quickly this peaceful scene calmed me. Everything seemed to slow down. I read my book and listened to the sounds of birds and chit chatter of the other park visitors. I was probably only there for half an hour, but I returned to work refreshed and with a calmer mind. It also provided me with an immense sense of comfort to know that this green sanctuary was there for me if needed.
The benefits of even incorporating green spaces into the workplace have caught the attention of employers. Simply being surrounded by nature can improve concentration and increase productivity by 20%. Therefore, if you don’t have access to nature where you live or work, simply having a plant in your office can help boost wellbeing. According to a study by Cardiff University, having plants in the office can make staff happier and more productive.
Take this article as a sign to take that walk in the morning before work, buy that cute succulent you spotted the other day or encourage your workplace to incorporate plants into the office. It’ll be worth it.