It’s Time to Reduce Stress With Some Virtual Forest Bathing

It’s Time to Reduce Stress With Some Virtual Forest Bathing
Photo: dugdax, Shutterstock

Taking a walk in a forest can been deeply calming. Even if it’s just off the beaten path and you’re swatting mosquitoes away, you’re someplace different than the houses and buildings where you probably spend your life. A hike or a camping trip, or even a meditative half-hour in the park, can help you unplug for a minute, mentally as well as physically.

But here in quarantine, opportunities have dwindled. If you can’t travel and you’ve already seen enough of your local park, maybe it’s time for some virtual forest bathing.

There’s no way to fully replicate that immersive feeling from home; you’ll be experiencing the forest through a device’s screen. But you may find that photos, videos, or a live guided walk still help you to connect with nature.

Forest Bathing Hawaii offers virtual forest walks via Zoom for a fee, which are free for “first responders, healthcare and essential workers.”

The Broughton Hall Estate in the UK also offers guided Zoom walks on a sliding scale and free for essential workers.

The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy has a page collecting virtual walks around the world, including North Carolina, Arizona, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the UK.

Or perhaps you’d just like a video you can put on in the background, to remind you of the sounds and sights of nature. This morning walk in the woods gives you an hour of calm footsteps and views of babbling brooks (and it’s on an ASMR channel, if that’s your thing). This five-hour hike takes you through a trail in Issaqua, Washington with plenty of birdsong. That one is from the 4K Relaxation Channel, which has plenty more of the same, including this hike through a wintery landscape ” in case you’d like to escape the heat of summer while you’re on your virtual vacation.