Should medical, and mental health, professionals “prescribe” spending time in nature?

Should medical, and mental health, professionals “prescribe” spending time in nature?

Forest Bathing: A Retreat To Nature Can Boost Immunity And Mood was broadcasted and posted online by NPR on 7-17-17.  The article begins by clarifying what the term “Forest Bathing,” which comes from Japanese culture, means; basically,  getting out into nature, slowing down, and immersing oneself in the experience by tuning in to the sounds, smells, sights and more.  There actually is an Association of Forest and Nature Therapy Guides and Programs.

This “therapy” is also known as Shinrin-yoko and The Medicine of Being in the Forest. The experience is similar to a meditation in the outdoors, but with a focus on the external sensations rather than an internal focus. And, there actually are studies in support of the physiological benefits to being in nature.   The NPA article references only a few studies, but the Association website provides quite a few studies, but most probably would benefit from increasing the statistical rigor and being replicated.   The founding member of the Association is quoted by NPR as hoping that some day Forest Therapy will be a benefit covered by medical insurance.

MHConciege’s take:  Having Forest Therapy be a benefit covered by insurance is, to say the least, a stretch – maybe would be possible when the US has a single payer program.  In other words, don’t hold your breath.  On the other hand, it is really hard to argue with the benefits of spending more time in nature, slowing down, and letting in the calming and soothing experience. 

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