According to the World Health Organization, stress has become a growing global problem and constitutes a risk factor for developing illnesses such as coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, and depression.
By 2050, 75% of the world’s projected 9 billion population will live in cities, and since the year 2000, we have officially become an urban species. We now spend more than 90% of the time indoors, and a study shows that people in Britain spend an average of eight hours and forty-one minutes a day on their devices, which is more time than the average person spends asleep !
Nature Therapy as a health-promotion method and potential universal health model is implicated for the reduction of reported modern-day « stress-state » and « technostress ».
Furthermore, Shinrin Yoku may be considered a form of Nature Therapy, as a set of practices aimed at achieving « preventive medical effects ».
Moreover, various contemporary hypotheses, such as, Kaplan’s Attention Restorative Hypothesis, Ulrich’s Stress Reduction Hypothesis, Kellert & Wilson’s Biophilia Hypothesis*, and also James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory*, provide support and a lens for the practice of Shinrin Yoku and other forms of nature engagement.
Several studies have shown that, when we connect with nature, we are reminded that we are part of something larger than ourselves. Faced with the awesome vastness of the universe, we can feel flooded with gratitude.
People who feel more connected to nature are more likely to engage in ecofriendly acts (Mayer & Frantz, 2004). The knowledge about nature is vital, but passion is the long-distance fuel for the struggle to save what is left of our natural heritage, and also to reconstitute lost land and water. Passion does not arrive on devices, passion is personal. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species : the child nature.
In « Last Child in the Woods », Richard Louv came up with a term to describe the gap between children and nature. He called it a « nature deficit disorder », and he has linked the lack of nature in young people’s lives to the rise in behavioural disorders, depression and obesity, in addition to the lack of vitamin D. Nature is good for children’s mental and physical development. If we let our young people engage with the beauty of the natural world they will learn to love and understand its spirit. In the end, they will become adults who will protect it.
Gary Paul Nabhan said, « science is the human endeavor in which we are frequently reminded how wrong we can be ». If scientists rely only on reason, then « our work has no meaning. It needs to be placed in some spiritual context ».
Healthcare professionals and educators may turn to the Shinrin Yoku and Nature Therapy literature for simple, affordable and enjoyable complementary interventions to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression symptons and enhance joy, relaxation, overall sense of well-being and balance in life. Furthermore, Shinrin Yoku as a healing and restorative modality may support the clinician’s and patient’s whole-being, while promoting a sense of peace, dignity and comfort.
There is no medicine you can take that has such a direct influence on your health as a walk in a beautiful forest. The practice of Shinrin Yoku is ontological realism and offer humans an authentic way of healing and health prevention for the mind, body and spirit.
*Biophilia hypothesis : the concept that humans have a biological need to connect with nature. It can be defined as « love of live and the living world ».
*Gaia Theory : James Lovelock & Lynn Margulis defined Gaia as a complex entity involving the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil ; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic environment for life on this planet.