How much time do you spend indoors? If you’re like most people, you spend the majority of your days in an office, inside your home, and even in your car. You rarely set foot outside, except for the times you spend walking from your car into your office or a store. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency studied this exact issue, and found that the average American spends 87 percent of their time indoors and 6 percent inside a vehicle. That leaves only 7 percent of our time that is spent outdoors!
If you live in an urban environment, what little time you spend outside probably does not involve fresh air and the peaceful sounds of nature. Why does this matter? Many studies have demonstrated that spending time outside is linked to lower stress, better memory, and positive feelings about oneself and one’s life. You could even craft a reasonable argument linking the excessive amount of time we spend indoors with the high numbers of people suffering from conditions like anxiety, depression, and chronic stress (although that is unlikely to be the only cause).
This realization has led many of us to become followers of the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”. Literally translated, shinrin-yoku means “taking in the forest atmosphere”, or soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a natural outdoor setting.
To practice forest bathing, the most obvious method might involve getting yourself to a national forest or state park to spend time outdoors. Walking or biking along a path is the most common form of practicing shinrin-yoku. But of course, most of us can’t do that every day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of forest bathing on a daily basis. There are other options.
You can create your own woodland space in your backyard, by planting trees and shrubs to envelope you in soothing greenery. A stone footpath, weaving throughout the yard, can give you a place to linger and enjoy nature. Water features such as a fountain, waterfall, or koi pond provide the tranquility of bubbling water. Remember, also, to provide yourself with a place to sit, so that you can rest and soak in the atmosphere via all of your senses.
Give us a call if you’re ready to renovate your backyard retreat. We can help you design a soothing, park-like atmosphere so that the medicine of nature is always close at hand.