Forest bathing?

I hope this finds you and your loved ones suffering from nothing more than a good old-fashioned cabin fever. If that is the case, then you’re probably missing many of the things that you used to do outside of the house.

There are only so many hours a day that it’s healthy to fill by reading about coronavirus symptoms and statistics. There’s definitely a YouTube video from Science Insider that I’ve watched way more times than is good for me.

You’re also probably really tired of cute and catchy videos about washing your hands, although Neil Diamond’s Washing Hands still brought a tear to my eye today.

Of course, one reason that the video got to me today is because this happened to be the day that the Red Sox were scheduled to play their first game of the season. In case you don’t know what Sweet Caroline has to do with that, there is a tradition to sing it during the seventh-inning stretch at all Red Sox home games. No matter what you think of baseball in general, or Red Sox in particular, I promise you that it’s a *lot* of fun to be in the crowd for it. Here’s a two minute clip from the MBL to give a sense of that joyous experience.

Then there is the fact that the term “social distancing” is a misnomer — it should be “physical distancing” because socializing isn’t bad. In fact, it’s recommended, but old-fashioned phone calls aren’t the be-all and end-all for socializing at-a-distance now.

Almost everyone is using one or more video apps required for work or of their own choosing to keep in touch with family and friends. If you’re not, try it — there are plenty of free and simple options available.
8 free ways to video chat with loved ones while social distancing (Maddie Mortell, Boston.com)

If you happen to be using the wildly popular Zoom, then you’ve probably also figured out all of the fun stuff that you can do with it. If not, check out this video.

In addition, the physically fit amongst you have probably made strides in figuring out how to get some exercise. If not, here’s a CBS News video with some basics.

Personally, I am a fan of Jane Fonda’s videos. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and Vogue even agrees!

However, there are plenty of other newfangled ways to stay active at home. The chances are that if you used to get exercise with the help of a company or group, then they are offering their sessions online. If not, plenty do!
Fitness enthusiasts think outside the gym during coronavirus (Kelli Kennedy, AP via Boston.com)

Now all of that stuff might keep you “somewhat” busy, but it probably won’t replace anywhere near all of the time that you used to spend doing a lot of other stuff outside of the house. There’s probably quite a bit of leftover time.

What to do, what to do?

You’ve probably also gotten your fill of suggestions about that, too!

There’s a deluge of stories in the media that suggest activities to keep you busy. For example, here’s (yet another) one from my local news site.
Our ultimate guide to hunkering down (Boston.com)

I was perusing it on the off-chance that it included something other than well-worn, ho-hum suggestions when something called “forest bathing” caught my eye.

Forest bathing?

Ugh? What’s that? I wanted to know more!

It turns out that it’s a form of nature therapy that originated in Japan where it is known as Shinrin-yoku. Here’s a Life Hacker video about the practice.

That stress relief sure sounded good, but I don’t happen to have a forest handy 🙁

I tried to find a 360˚ video of Okutama Forest, but I couldn’t find one.

On the other hand, I did find this soothing 360˚ video of the Hokkaido forest.

Nice, I could use some more of that!

Of course, there are plenty of other videos like that on YouTube. For example, you might enjoy a 17 minute long 360˚ video of a relaxing walk in a Norwegian forest.

Here’s the thing, though. As neat as 360˚ videos can be, they are no substitute for the real thing when it comes to physical activity.

If you don’t happen to have ingredients for a “forest bath” nearby (i. e. an actual bunch of trees), then just go for a regular walk, in the real world, as often as you can.

With or without scads of “nature” available, it will still be healthy and relaxing!

Better yet, it’s allowed.

No matter how strict things are in your area, exercise is generally included in the legitimate and “essential” activities that you can leave your house to do.
Go for a Walk: You’re allowed. It will help (Shannon Palus, Slate)

So get out there and get moving to stay healthy and less stressed, whether or not you happen to be lucky enough to have a forest 🙂

Find out more about forests