Like sitting around the dinner table, forest bathing together as a family or with community creates stronger bonds and amplifies the health benefits of getting outside. You feel more connected to nature, but also to each other. The collective experience of standing still listening to a woodpecker or sharing the awe-inspiring view of a pastel watercolour sunset brings everyone closer together.
Forest bathing is a wellness activity for the whole family, with benefits for adults and children alike. Getting kids to spend time outside has positive effects on their psychological and emotional development. Forest bathing helps children increase their physical activity levels, improve their eyesight, lower the chance that they’ll be overweight, improve their behaviour, increase cooperation and empathy, and reduce symptoms associated with ADHD. Forest bathing also fosters positive environmental attitudes and values. Children (and adults too!) learn to conserve, protect, and live harmoniously with their larger environment, making them better stewards for their relationships with each other and for the future of our planet.
Some of my favourite memories, and those of my kids, revolve around our times together strolling in the forest, gathering walking sticks, humming, balancing on fallen trees, or tracking animal prints in the snow. A few weeks ago, we went for a walk through a city ravine path. At first, the kids complained that the path was too paved and not interesting enough. How far are we going?, they asked. I didn’t answer. Less than 60 seconds later, I turned around to see they had hoisted a rather large log and were marching down the trail singing in unison. I smiled, happy to see the playfulness emerging. Soon after, we stopped to watch a coyote above us on the hillside. “That was so cool,” they said, as we headed back to the car. It was just a short walk along a city path, but it was an experience we shared as a family. It’s these experiences forest bathing that help bring us closer together as a family and create a space for health and even a little magic.