Forest bathing can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression

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Study in Barcelona analyzed the impact of forest bathing on emotional well-being

Published 02/04/2024

forest bathing

Photo: Micah Hallahan | Unsplash

The effects of “forest bathing” exposure on emotional well-being were analyzed in a study in Spain. The practice, called shinrin-yoku in Japanese, is a therapeutic modality of immersion in nature through the conscious use of sensory perception.

Scientific research on forest bathing reveals clinically relevant effectiveness in the functions of the immune, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, as well as reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms. There are abundant empirical studies in Asian countries and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) decided to analyze the hypothesis locally.

For the study, participants aged 18 to 75 years old with symptoms of anxiety and/or mild depression were evaluated. A total of 46 people were randomly assigned to two arms. Two guided forest bathing practice sessions were held. Participants completed online assessment forms before and after each session, also during the 24 hours following the activity, as well as before and after the program as a whole. The study included clinical assessments, emotional well-being, social support and other complementary indicators.

forests and mental health
Photo: Angela Benito | Unsplash

The results showed an immediate impact of forest bathing in reducing stress, anxiety and negative affectivity, as well as increasing full awareness of thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations; as well as the experience of pleasant emotions. According to the scientists, future research could study the temporal evolution of the effects of forest bathing, determining whether the benefits have an impact on daily life and whether repeating the activity can produce cumulative effects.

The research was carried out by a group of researchers under the coordination of Professor Antoni Sanz, from the Department of Basic Psychology, Development and Education at UAB. The study “NAT-Can Rull: the impact of forest bathing on the emotional well-being of people with subclinical symptoms of anxiety and depression” can be read here.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Forest bathing alleviate symptoms anxiety depression

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