What on earth is “forest bathing”?

By Polly Guetta

While looking at all of the beautiful photos that have been submitted for our photo contest “the Healing Power of Nature” (www.gogophotocontest.com/mdabc),  I have found myself wishing that I was spending more time in the great outdoors. And I mean really outdoors, as in far, far away from concrete, cars, and, skyscrapers. To really feel the healing power of winter magicnature, I think we need to have a fully immersive experience.

While researching the evidence that direct contact with nature really can help people to heal, I kept coming across the term “forest bathing”. What on earth is forest bathing? Is it nude people running through waterfalls? Rolling around in fields of flowers and “bathing” in the dirt?

I HAD TO KNOW!

After a little bit of digging, I found out that forest bathing is also known as Shinrin-Yoku and the term was originally coined in 1982 by the Forest Agency of the Japanese government. In Japanese, shinrin means forest, and yoku, although it has several meanings, refers here to “bathing, showering or basking in”. And so, forest bathing is simply the art of being truly present in nature, specifically forests, and using all of your senses to fully absorb all of its awesomeness.

Intuitively, we feel that when we connect with nature, we often feel more grounded, healthier and calmer. Personally, I find that when I am surrounded by nature, my breathing becomes deeper, and I have more energy. Now, there is a ton of research that backs up what most of us have known all along. Forest bathing has a positive impact on many markers of stress; it has been shown to decrease blood pressure, anxiety symptoms, and stress hormones. When we feel relaxed, the parts of our brains that are sometimes in overdrive can slow down, and the parts of our brains associated with pleasure and empathy can have a chance to flourish. Our bodies and minds can then start to heal and transform.

So, who’s up for a little forest bathing this weekend? Let us know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Everybody needs a little help thinking positively…

The MDABC has created a new “positive thoughts” poster for you to print and share – click here to download the PDF.

positive thoughts

The Art of Gratitude

morning sun

By Polly Guetta

Cultivating gratitude has long been recognized as a key approach to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfillment, and well-being. In the seventeenth century, Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza suggested that in order to develop a practice of gratitude that becomes second nature we commit to answering the following questions every day for a month:

Who or what inspired me today?
What brought me happiness today?
What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

By answering these questions daily in a journal, you can start to take more notice of the beauty and joy in life and this can lead to a meaningful change in your general outlook.  As you write down your thoughts, try to have original entries every day – this will challenge you to take note of the little things that brightened your day, touched your heart, or made you smile.

To help get you started on a daily gratitude practice, I asked some of MDABC staff and supporters to share their answers to one or more of the questions. Here are some of their entries:

From Lisa Kleiman, MDABC Support Group Facilitator:
What brought me happiness today?

I am so grateful for every single day. For sitting in my favourite coffee shop. Meeting friends, seeing family, working, volunteering, facilitating. I take nothing for granted. This time last year I was very sick and in hospital. Thinking I will never see wellness again. It was so scary to think there was no hope for recovery. I feel so blessed to have my mental health back. I am able to attend MDABC workshops to help me get even stronger. I use my tools that I have to keep myself in wellness.

I know what I almost lost and to be well today I am so very grateful.

 From Valentina Chichiniova, Counsellor at MDABC:

Who or what inspired me today? Watching an old couple holding hands and supporting one another.


What brought me happiness today?
Watching the beautiful cloudy sky and noticing the amazing variety in shades of grey, white, purple and yellow.


What brought me comfort and deep peace today? 
Talking to my mom.

 

From Teri Doerksen, Receptionist at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC:

Who or what inspired me today?

Martin (Executive Director of MDABC) inspired me today at the staff meeting – he reminded me that all of the work I do is to help a person with mental health issues cope and begin to recover.

Thanks for sharing everyone. If you’d like to share your gratitude post, please comment!

A Welcoming Space

Untitled design (1)

Valentina Chichiniova is the lead Canadian Certified Counsellor practicing individual and family counselling at The Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC. She has been with the Counselling and Wellness Centre since we opened our new offices in April 2015. Over the course of the summer, Valentina began decorating her counselling office with the goal of making it a cozy, inviting, and optimistic space. When we asked Valentina why she was taking the time to decorate the room, she replied: “I want it to feel homey, comfortable, and safe. The more comfortable and homey the environment, the easier it is to share about yourself and your life.”

To book an appointment for individual, couples, or family counselling with Valentina, click here to complete an intake form. Once we receive the form, our office staff will contact you directly.