Walking in nature Forest Bathing and Tree Therapy are the new frontiers of wellbeing, especially in a pandemic period

Walking in nature Forest Bathing and Tree Therapy are the new frontiers of wellbeing, especially in a pandemic period

di Maria Serena Patriarca

Escape from the city. If Covid gives no respite and even attending a gym can be synonymous with anxiety and worry, the paths in nature, among the countryside, woods, parks and mountains are the true frontier of well-being to keep the body in shape and recalibrate the mind.

More and more people, from the spread of the pandemic onwards, have approached hiking , hiking, trekking, Nordic walking (walking with sticks in hand) to find a few hours of relief from city stress and breathe freely. Among the new wellness trends for lovers of nature walks, Mindtrek, or trekking combined with Tibetan meditation created by the Italian Guido Freddi, and Buddhi Walk, or the “yogic” walk that is popular in the United States, are making their way. where yoga pauses, conscious breathing and relaxation, with simple stretching movements and postures (called asana ) taken from Hata Yoga, are combined with the actual walking phase in the green.

Even a snowshoe hike in the snow can become a “detox” moment for the body and the spirit: the interesting thing is to be able to really immerse yourself in nature, benefiting from moments of silence, breathing deeply and listening to the sounds of nature itself. . In Italy these are the months when snowshoe fans gather to discover new itineraries in the Apennines or the Alps.

Without forgetting that more and more tour operators organize trips aimed at remise en forme , beauty and contact with nature, and the combination of hotel-spa-walks among the trees is becoming a must for a target of tourists who are increasingly aware of the importance of their physical and mental well-being.

To walk in nature, especially in winter, it is good to equip yourself with hiking shoes, “onion” clothing, light, warm and breathable, and a backpack with a water bottle and protein bars, dried fruit or dark chocolate. It is also important to always carry a paper map of the paths to follow, because there may not always be a GPS signal from the navigator. Don’t forget a light waterproof jacket, in case of sudden rain.

One of the latest trends is to combine walks with Mindfulness, just to free the mind from recurring and obsessive thoughts. In Japan, not surprisingly, the Forest Bathing is a real symbolic “bath” inside the woods, to rediscover oneself in harmony with the leaves, the trunk of the trees, the moss or the snow. Tree Therapy is also contemplated in the psychological and psychiatric rehabilitation programs of some American hospitals to restore, in contact with trees, the serenity of the individual himself. Usually in winter it is good to equip yourself with a waterproof padded cloth, to be able to sit with your back in contact with the trunk of a tree, cross-legged, and allow yourself a few minutes of long, slow and deep breathing from the nostrils, with half-closed eyes.

Forest Bathing and Tree Therapy are two valid means also to strengthen our immune system, and this is reiterated in a vast panel of studies by the major US universities.

Remember, however, that you do not improvise walkers, and that it is good to leave prepared and always do some stretching exercises at the end of the path. As a wellness routine we recommend a warm bath with essential oils after each walk in nature, and then massage the skin with almond oil and make it soft and silky. The bathroom, in these cases, is preferable to the classic shower because it allows you to better assimilate relaxation and the benefits brought to our body by the path taken in contact with an uncontaminated and silent natural environment. Not surprisingly, especially in South Tyrol for example, spa treatments are a “must” after every mountain excursion, and this is a living tradition especially in Northern Europe. Just think of the Finnish people and the “cult” of the sauna as a break to detoxify body, skin and mind.

Last but not least , always protect the skin of the face with a high protection cream, to avoid unpleasant sun spots that could form – especially in the mountains or high hills – even if exposure to the sun does not it is direct or if the day is cloudy.