What is Forest Bathing?

Tree canopy at Winkworth Arboretum

Modern life is full of noise and activity, hustle and bustle. We're on the go all the time, rushing from one to-do list to the next, moving at a hundred miles per hour. It isn't often that we take the time to really slow down, get outside and pay attention to the little things, like birdsong or the texture of bark on trees. Forest Bathing invites you to do just that.

What is Forest Bathing?

'Forest Bathing' is an English translation of the Japanese phrase shinrin-yoku, and despite what the name suggests, you won't need a shower cap or bubble bath to have a go.

The concept is very smple; all it means is spending quiet, mindful time in nature to improve your wellbeing. This relaxation practice was developed in Japan, and it invites you to take notice of the natural world, breathe deeply and calm your mind.

Notice the sunlight through the branches on the trees
Sunlight through the canopy at Winkworth
Notice the sunlight through the branches on the trees

How to get started

  1. Turn off your phone. Disconnecting from the outside world gives you the best opportunity to unwind. 
  2. Breathe deeply, and listen to the sound of your breath. Feel your body start to relax.
  3. Take it as slow as you can. The slower you can go, the more you can notice, and the easier it is to slow down your thoughts. 
  4. Use all your senses. Reach out and touch the trees. Listen to the birdsong. Ask yourself what you can smell, what you can see, and how the woodland makes you feel. 
  5. Find a spot to sit and observe. You might be surprised how many wild animals you spot when you sit quietly still. 
  6. Stay as long as you can. Two hours is the recommended amount of time for Forest Bathing, but remember that even a little goes a long way.
Enjoy the tranquil winter atmosphere of Winkworth
The boathouse seen from across a misty lake in winter, with geese on the water
Enjoy the tranquil winter atmosphere of Winkworth

Forest Bathing in the Arboretum

No matter which path you pick at Winkworth, you can always find yourself in a peaceful place. The tranquil woodland of the Arboretum is a calm oasis, full of meandering paths, secret glades and wide, sweeping views of the Surrey Hills. 

The Arboretum is home to a variety of wildlife, and any visit is accompanied by a chorus of gentle birdsong. If you're quiet enough, you might even encounter a roe deer while you walk.

There are no forest bathing events this year in the arboretum, please check our events page for upcoming guided walks.