Forest therapy is a rather recent development in stress relief, at least in terms of doing it as a dedicated method of therapy. In reality, you’ve probably done it by chance at some point in your life. Forest therapy, also known as forest bathing, involves going out into the forest, likely on a dedicated trail, and simply relaxing and taking in the sights and sounds without worrying about other things going on around you. This is very relaxing, and can actually help your immune system in a few different ways.
The first thing that forest therapy does to boost your immune system is help you relieve stress. Stress isn’t something that just affects your mental health. It can have a lot of serious repercussions on your physical health as well. This is mostly due to the amount of hormones that stress releases, namely cortisol.
Cortisol is what makes you feel panicked when you’re stressed, and it was originally meant to help humans escape from dangerous situations. However, these days, it still gets released due to things like work stress, and for longer periods of time. Short bursts of cortisol are fine, but continuous release of it, like you’ll find in prolonged stress, can ruin your body, especially your immune system. This is because it slows down your white blood cells, making them less efficient and instead has your body focus more on why there’s cortisol being released. Without your white blood cells working as well as possible, your immune system will be considerably weaker.
Another benefit of forest therapy is that you’ll get some sunshine. Vitamin D is created in the body as a reaction to sunlight, so being outside is crucial to getting it. Vitamin D helps create stronger and more efficient white blood cells, making your immune system stronger. By spending some quality time outside, sunshine can increase your vitamin D levels and also help with things like depression.
There are no real downsides to forest therapy, though being out in nature can be dangerous if you don’t entirely know what you’re doing. For example, you should know not to touch or mess with any wildlife, because you don’t know if they’re dangerous or not. You should also be sure to carry water and even possibly a compass or satellite map in the event that you get lost. All in all though, those are just precautions, and you’re likely going to have a nice, relaxing walking.