We’ve all heard the phrase “stop and smell the roses.” It’s a cliché term that’s sometimes used when chastising other people. But researchers have found that stopping and sniffing the roses, or taking a moment to enjoy nature, is actually incredibly healthy for you. Studies have shown that taking “forest baths” actually helps people feel healthier. The effects can range from lower blood pressure, improve immune system, and just in general being happier.
In Japan, this is called shinrin-yoku. It is a type of nature therapy where people go out and take a walk among the forest or just take a moment to sit in a forest. No phones. No electronics. Just taking a nice calm walk among nature for 30 minutes.
The point of taking a forest bath is that there is no point at all. There should be no worry or stress over what should be accomplished—just appreciation for one’s surroundings. Although people argue over the exact benefits of taking a forest bath, it does not mean that nobody should do it. Just taking a moment to put things away and sit to appreciate nature is enough to calm the senses.
During my time in Hawaii, I found that spending consistent time outside and observing the world around me refreshed my mind. It helped me become more productive, both in art and in writing, and I became generally happier. Not only did it make me mentally feel better, but physically I saw an improvement. My skin cleared up and the pain in my joints gradually went away. If you ever find yourself stuck on an essay, taking a brisk walk around campus or even sitting next to Shakespeare in the UIS garden might help give you the inspiration to finish your assignment.
The only problem lies in taking the time out of one’s day to go out to spend time in nature. There are many places near UIS where someone can go to take a small walk in the forest. But often times people put in their earbuds to listen to music or stay on their phone to text their friends. Many people would be surprised that on the northeast side of campus there is a trail that looks almost haunted. Last semester, I took a small walk up there with my friend to see what was there. We found twisting trees, hanging vines, and some other very strange mushrooms. Even if people do not want to stray too far away from campus, there is a small pond and garden near the library. There really is no excuse to not find time to spend in nature.
Everyone should go on a nature walk at least once. Even if you don’t believe the health benefits it can give you, one cannot deny that the walk itself can help refresh your mind. Especially during exam or essay time.