The weather’s warming up, the sun is sticking around to give us extra daylight, and the great outdoors beckon.
Wanna know why you should answer the call and go outside if you’re a writer?
Heading out among nature can help you write better and feel more productive. In a way, you could say break time outside actually doubles as work time. And I’ve got science on my side to prove why…
A Writer’s Natural Support System
The “art” of immersing yourself in nature is a Japanese wellness practice called forest bathing (otherwise known as shinrin-yoku in Japan). It’s where you roam through a natural outdoor space to appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells of the plants and wildlife around you. These walks help you reconnect with nature to benefit your health and well-being.
Research findings show those who make a practice of forest bathing enjoy improved moods, less stress, and stronger immunity.
But if you’re a writer, forest bathing is even more valuable. Here are some of the key benefits of forest bathing for writers…
1. De-stress Your Day
You know those days when you have too many tasks and looming deadlines, yet you’re too overwhelmed to sit down and focus on the flow of your writing? A stressed-out writer is not generally an effective writer. That’s where forest bathing can help.
One research study tested subjects by taking them to the woods for 15 minutes of “bathing.” They found that after the short time surrounded by trees, participants had lower heart rates, blood pressure, and a decrease in the stress hormone, cortisol. Another study reported participants felt more energy and vigor following a forest bathing session.
2. Enhance Your Creativity
The process of forest bathing is to meander, not to hike. You slow down and explore as you engage your five senses. A helpful writing tip I learned years ago was to consider all five senses when writing descriptions for quality copy and articles. So, forest bathing is a complementary activity for writers to tap into creative word crafting.
By the numbers, a study looking at people who spent three days out in nature improved their creativity scores by 50%. As writers, we could all benefit from creative boosts like this!
3. Engage a Positive Mindset
Forest bathers spend less time plagued by negative thoughts. In fact, a 2015 study showed these nature seekers had a particular decrease in rumination, which is repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of the self.
As a writer who needs to spend a lot of time “thinking” throughout the day, there’s really no time for negative thoughts. Whatever style of writer you are, you’ve got words of genius yet to be typed out. So, if negativity is getting you down, I highly suggest you step outside for a dose of fresh air.
4. Greater Immunity
Studies show the amount of killer white blood cells that clear out infected cells increase after spending time in nature. It’s believed organic compounds called phytoncides, released from trees, is what triggers this jump in immunity.
Staying healthy is super important for us Barefoot Writers. Who wants to be sick when you’ve got compelling things to write, and so much wonderful living to do on your own terms?
How to Practice Forest Bathing
When you’re ready to start a forest bath, here are some specific things you can do on your stroll:
- See – Look up at the trees and see the light trickling through, then down at the ground to observe rocks and mosses. Ponder the colors, textures, and shapes surrounding you.
- Smell – Notice the aromas of the forest, like the freshness of evergreens. Smell flowers. (If you live near an area where ponderosa pine grows, you’re especially lucky! This is my favorite smell in the world.)
- Hear – Listen to your feet as you walk along the path. Then stop walking for a while and pay attention to bird calls, running water, or the rustling of leaves.
- Feel – Touch the various plants around you. Feel the fiddlehead of a fern, or the bark of a tree. Notice textures. Does a leaf feel glossy or velvety?
- Taste – If you come across berries, herbs, or nuts that you verifiably know are edible, greet these with your taste buds. Or bring along a thermos of hot water and make a tea out of pine needles.
Forest bathing is meant to take place in the forest or woods, but any outdoor space with plants around will do. You could spend time at a city park, or stroll through your own backyard.
The main goal of forest bathing is to open up to your natural surroundings and allow your curiosity to flourish.
Then head back inside feeling rejuvenated for your next round of brilliant writing.