Brisbane City Council is holding guided forest therapy walks at Karawatha Forest this month. If you’re in dire need to stop and smell the trees, you’ll want to check it out.

Forest therapy isn’t about talking to trees – it’s more closely related to forest bathing, a booming practice which first originated in Japan, and which combines nature with mindfulness. It’s based on the idea that intentionally experiencing nature benefits your mental and physical wellbeing. 

As someone who loves the outdoors, it may seem obvious to you that nature is good for your wellbeing – but forest therapy differs from your average galavant through the bush. It’s about slowing down, being present, and inhaling those nice phytoncides (compounds which plants release defensively, which also have benefits for human health).

The Japanese have truly pioneered scientific research into forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, (check out this review of the peer-reviewed research so far) and there’s mounting evidence that time in nature can specifically reduce rumination (a type of unhelpful thinking common in people with anxiety), boost the immune system, and reduce heart rate. As research into the specific benefits of forest bathing increases, people are taking notice and the practice is now spreading all over the globe.

Now, you can try it for yourself at Karawatha Forest, under 30km from Brisbane CBD. Free guided walks are being held 9:30am-10:30am on Saturday 23rd November and Sunday 24th November. Bring water and a hat – no bookings required, just show up at the Discovery Centre!

If you’re outside of Brisbane, guided forest therapy walks are also held at Centennial Parklands, Sydney, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne.


Note: forest therapy is a great addition to talk therapy with a qualified counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist – but it’s not a replacement for traditional therapy or medication.


Feature photo by Mitchell Quinn

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