In tribute to the wellbeing benefits of nature, we’ve launched a new Forests for Wellbeing trail at selected sites, including Bedgebury Pinetum, Hamsterley Forest, Thames Chase, Chopwell Wood and Alice Holt Forest. You’ll be prompted to take some time for you, really connect with the forest and maybe even notice something new or previously undiscovered. If you've visited one of these forests and taken part, please give us your feedback here.
If we don’t yet have a forest for wellbeing trail at your local forest fear not, we’ve still got some simple ways to help you tune into nature wherever you are.
We all have those times when the world feels overwhelming – our minds may be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future. But when we take the time to immerse ourselves in it, nature can help us to connect to our senses and bring our focus to the present moment, as Ali, a visitor to Wendover Woods, describes:
When the world fills my head, I escape to the forest. The forest makes me feel rejuvenated and connected to everything that is good, balanced and part of the cycle of life.
Ali’s experience is backed up by scientific research which shows that developing a close relationship with nature improves our psychological wellbeing. We can build our connection with nature each time we visit a forest, whilst out in our local area or even from our own homes or gardens.
It’s surprising how easy it is to be surrounded by nature without really noticing its beauty. But if you look closely, you’ll find every colour of the rainbow! Whilst walking or sitting, look around you – how many colours can you see? Which colours draw your attention?
Did you know? Studies show that people relax and recuperate more when seeing greens or blues. Test out the theory in our virtual forest bathing gallery.
Forests make being active feel easier and more enjoyable compared to getting active indoors. They also boost our immune system and help us to feel calm and relaxed.
Giving full attention, in a non-judgemental way, to our movement can help us get more enjoyment out of being active – and have benefits for our minds as well as our bodies! Try noticing the feeling of your body moving, perhaps you are aware of the breeze against your skin or the different textures on the ground or nearby surfaces.
Looking for inspiration? Discover more mindful ways to move in the forest including an uplifting guided forest yoga video.
Can’t get to the forest? Allow us to bring the forest to you. Let your shoulders, neck and forehead relax as you release any tension. And as you slowly breathe in and out, imagine yourself standing among the trees.
- As you look around your forest, what 5 things can you see?
- Listen very carefully, what 4 things can you hear?
- As you become more familiar with your forest, what 3 things can you feel? Is the sun warming your face? Can you feel the ground beneath your feet?
- Taking a deep breath in through your nose, what 2 things can you smell?
- Try to make your out-breath longer than your in-breath and as you do so pay attention to one thing you can taste. Does the air in your forest have a taste?
Be immersed in the forest: Transport yourself to the forest with our 360-degree forest videos.
Trees are like a community, helping each other grow. They are able to exchange water and nutrients through the fungal root systems that link them underground. Like tree roots intertwining, we too are all connected and communicating with another person, even a stranger, can make us feel better.
If you’ve enjoyed your forest wellbeing experience today, perhaps you could share our forests for wellbeing virtual resources with a friend for them to try? Or you could share your forests photos with us – we’d love to see them!
Get connected: Share your photos or join us for a weekly check in on Instagram.