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Boosting employee wellbeing with the 'forest bathing' trend

‘Forest bathing’, a mindfulness trend from Japan, is the practice of getting outdoors and immersing yourself in nature to improve wellbeing. Dan Elliott, our National Sales Manager, shares his top tips on how to incorporate ‘forest bathing’ into the working week.

With a recent news story reported by The Telegraph highlighting that 1 in 3 ‘sick notes’ are due to mental health issues, employers are being implored to do more to support staff who are struggling to cope. Now a mindfulness trend from Japan is being hailed as a way to combat depression and anxiety; ‘Shinrin-yoku’, which literally translates as ‘forest bathing’, is the practice of getting outdoors and immersing yourself in nature to improve wellbeing.

A University study conducted in Japanese forests in the 1990’s found that as little as 15 minutes spent walking in the forest was associated with improved mood and feelings of health, as opposed to time spent indoors. More recent studies have shown that spending time in a forest environment triggers physiological changes, decreasing stress and anxiety, tackling depression and lowering hostility.

We recently conducted a research survey of our own and discovered that there is a severe lack of time spent outdoors for the average office worker, with 15% spending no time outside in a nature-like environment during the working week. Significantly, 89% of workers indicated that they would like to spend more time outside during the working week with 59% stating that time spent outdoors is relaxing. As such, we are hugely passionate about encouraging clients holding an event at Center Parcs to incorporate some form of outdoor activity into their event programme.

Delegates are often overloaded with information being crammed into one day during a conference, but this can be incredibly overwhelming. Scheduling time spent in the fresh air helps to increase concentration levels, as it gives the mind time to recharge and absorb new information, while avoiding an energy burnout.

We’ve also seen first-hand how successful outdoor teambuilding is when incorporated into a corporate conference or event, with a considerable increase of companies choosing to add on a teambuilding element to their event, particularly one that takes place in our forest environment. Getting everyone in amongst the trees and physically active has huge benefits, not just for the team bonding experience, but for each individual in terms of reducing stress, boosting self-esteem and rejuvenation. Scheduling an activity after a morning conference guarantees a happier audience – knowing you are not going to be stuck inside a conference room all day is a motivator in itself!

Top tips on how to incorporate ‘forest bathing’ into the working week:

  • Walk the final stretch of your journey to work – leaving a little earlier to have some fresh air will leave you feeling fresh and energised
  • Get outside on your lunchbreak, whether it’s a walk around the block or eating lunch in the park
  • If you’ve got a meeting scheduled, take it outside – walking meetings are a great way to get some exercise in the fresh air while encouraging some creative thinking
  • For employers: Make it a priority to focus on your employees and their wellbeing when organising an away day or conference. Incorporate outdoor breakout sessions or teambuilding to take advantage of the positive health benefits achieved from spending time outside.

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