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The Woodland Trust has claimed that the Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ should be prescribed on the NHS to tackle stress and other mental health problems.
The charity is urging GPs to prescribe forest bathing for mental health conditions and direct patients to their nearest woodland, where they can absorb nature, informally or as part of a structured program.
Stuart Dainton, head of innovation at the Woodland Trust, is appealing to GPs to make use of the more than 1,000 sites covered by the charity in the UK. Forest bathing could also be encouraged for children to help fight the ‘always on’ culture prompted by social media, he argued.
Forest bathing was devised 40 years ago by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries as part of an initiative to tackle stress among men. The activity involves breathing deeply and absorbing the atmosphere of the forest as a way of yielding calming, rejuvenating and restorative effects.