Damn hippies were right, nature is like free Xanax
It's called Shinrin-yoku — or 'forest bathing' — and it's all the rage.
It may possibly help unwind even your tight ass, too, if you're in fact one of the more than 40 million Americans suffering from some form of anxiety. Hell, even if you don't, a brief moment away from all the hullabaloo that is life is never a bad thing. This is where the Japanese have us beat, because they've been into 'forest bathing' for a hot minute (and have spent over $4 million studying it with positive results).
The term Shrinrin-yoku, states one particular study, "was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982, and can be defined as making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest."
In other words, it's kind of just standing around in a forest doing nothing other than taking in the sights, smells and energy emitted from nature — and probably hugging the trees once in a while to say "Thank you."
Basically, it's what that Todd guy you knew in high school always did and you couldn't stop making fun of him for it. Now he's walking around with a deep collection of heady wire wraps, a massive smile across his face and statistically has a better chance of living longer and fuller than you and your alcoholic friends. "Last Laugh" Todd is his new name now.
"It makes a lot of sense," says Greg Alburn, 32, an outdoor enthusiast living in Colorado. He's completely unaware of what the Japanese have spent so much time and money studying, but when further explained, he says it's the exact reason he spends so much time in the mountains. "If I could I'd live up there, but I have a tech job and can't make it work. The forest, trails, ski slopes, anything outdoors is my escape. It's like free Xanax."
Researchers found that "forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.” In street, it means you're 'naturally lit AF.'
It might be tempting in the future to crack another zinger at hippies or the weird crunchy guy down the street who never wears shoes, but keep in mind they're better than you are and are going to experience a more satisfying and comfortable existence because of their powerful connection to nature.
My, how the tables have turned.