This month George’s Dad and brother came to visit us for 2 weeks from Ireland. We were so excited to host them as they had never come to visit before.
We planned lots of great activities in the city like taking the sea taxi to Stanley park, walking the sea wall, visiting Granville island, exploring the anthropology museum in UBC, walking through Gastown and experiencing lots of the amazing vegan & vegetarian restaurants.
However, our favorite experience of the whole trip was our walk in the woods. We drove to Lynn Valley and went on a simple walk, nothing too strenuous. Immediately when we got out of the car the temperature and the quality of the air was different to the city. The air was cooler and felt fresh & pure.
In Japan a walk in the woods is called shinrin-yoku – literally “forest bathing”. Walking among trees, breathing fresh air and hearing the natural sounds around you is extremely restorative just like having a bath in the comfort of your home.
Even though we walked so much during our family’s vacation, this walk was very different, why?
Why does walking in the woods generate different emotions and feeling than walking for the same length in an urban setting?
There have been numerous studies done on this topic with a wide range of theories of the physical & mental benefits nature can provide.
For one, clean air is abundant in the woods. The trees and plants act like air filters and release clean fresh oxygen for us to breath. After the smoky summer we had in Vancouver, it was a treat to breath in clean air again. The cool, crisp air of early Fall is one of the best feelings and reminds me of the chilly frosty mornings in Ireland that I love so much. Nothing makes you feel more alive than the feeling of cold air going into your lungs early in the morning.
The one thing George’s Dad mentioned he liked on our walk was the absent sound of traffic. Living in Vancouver for 8 years now, we have got used to hearing cars in the background. However, the one thing we notice when we go camping is the silence. It is so nice to just hear your own footsteps, your breath, the birds singing, the leaves rustling. Such a calming and relaxing environment to be in.
Recent studies suggest that people who suffer from depression or people who have negative outlooks can benefit greatly from a walk in the woods. Being away from crowds, traffic, noise & pollution can have huge beneficial effects to the immune system and the mind.
Color therapy would suggest that green is a very relaxing color, with restorative and nurturing side effects. Being in the woods and surrounding yourself with green could be enough to calm you after the stressful car journey to the woods! Lol.
Clearly walking or taking a stroll in the woods makes you feel better and it definitely does make me feel more relaxed than if I were to walk the same distance in the city.
We are hoping to make use of our parks in our city more and get as much green and clean air exposure as we can leading into fall & winter.
Where do you like to walk? What are your favorite woods to walk in? We would love to hear some suggestions😉
I hope you have a lovely week.