The second cultural concept explored comes from Japan.
Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) describes a way to heal ourselves by surrounding ourselves with certain plant pheromones known to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and increase the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells.
Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that means “forest bathing” and unlike the Norwegian to English translations of friluftsliv, this one seems a perfect language fit (though a pretty similar idea).
The idea being that spending time in the forest and natural areas is good preventative medicine, since it lowers stress, which causes or exacerbates some of our most intractable health issues.
As MNN’s Catie Leary details, this isn’t just a nice idea — there’s science behind it: “The “magic” behind forest bathing boils down to the naturally produced allelochemic substances known as phytoncides, which are kind of like pheromones for plants.
Their job is to help ward off pesky insects and slow the growth of fungi and bacteria.
When humans are exposed to phytoncides, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress and boost the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells.
Some common examples of plants that give off phytoncides include garlic, onion, pine, tea tree and oak, which makes sense considering their potent aromas.”
I’m always amazed at how peaceful I feel in a forest. Calm, serene, and whole.