Fall to many, is that season of “getting back into the swing of things.” We’re no longer in denial about the passing of summer days and as the chilly weather settles in, skirts become scarves and sandals become boots. Perhaps you were shaken out of summer dreams by the work that might be piling or the sneaky approach of school exams. Or perhaps it’s the trees themselves and their colorful transformation that is nodding the way into the colder weather months. Either way, it’s time for a much needed mental vacation. For today’s brain vacay, let’s take a moment to talk about forest bathing. Haven’t heard of it? That’s okay, we all could definitely use a healing walk in the open forest. The idea of forest bathing or “Shinrin-yoku” encapsulates the restorative nature of, well.. nature! Of course this intuitively makes sense to anyone who has spent any time refreshing outside, but there is actually a lot of scientific research that supports healing and preventative benefits of hanging out with our forest friends. Where might these health benefits come from? Taking a stroll to the forest isn’t simply visually stimulating, part of the health benefit comes from the phytoncides (wood essential oils) or antimicrobial organic compounds that are naturally emitted by trees! More specifically, phytonocides are active substances that protect plants from rotting, being eaten up by certain insects or animals, and even help plants fight disease. When us forest visitors breathe them in, our bodies respond by creating more white blood cells, otherwise known as natural disease warriors. The benefits of forest bathing are wide ranging, from decreases in stress levels (cortisol and adrenaline) and blood pressure to an improved ability to focus. Talk about a win-win-win. Don’t have time for a weekend forest getaway? You can find these same phytoncides in, you guessed it, Hinoki. Forest- bathing from home.