Why Everyone Should Dip Their Toe Into Forest Bathing

It's time to go wild...

Photo by Connor Danylenko

There is something special about this time of year in Ireland. It’s what I always consider to be the cusp of summer and the point where we can start really embracing the outdoors again. From golden sunshine and brighter nights to dining alfresco and going on long hikes, there is no denying that May is magic.

Don’t get me wrong, the cold and rain are very much part of this season too – we live in Ireland after all. But of course, as we all know that’s not always the case, and when it’s sunny in our little Emerald Isle there really is no better country to explore.

With that in mind, let me introduce you to forest bathing.

I experienced forest bathing for the first time last autumn and I absolutely loved it. For those who may not be aware of the term, let it be known that it does not involve bathing in water. Who knew?

What it does actually involve is slowing down and spending time in nature by simply bathing ourselves in the forest atmosphere though the use of our senses, focusing on what one can see, hear, smell, touch and taste.

Tried and tested

I had the pleasure of visiting Forest Bathing Wicklow. There, I met my wonderful guide Catherine de Witt (Cat) who took me and my fellow group on a walk through Knocksink woods, in Enniskerry. During this time we were given a series of invitations which were short exercises to help us connect with nature.

Some of these involved spending time in the company of trees, touching their leafy canopies, breathing in the pine-scented air, laying down on the earth’s floor and looking up at our surroundings.

If for whatever reason you don’t feel like participating in the activities, not to worry as they are only a suggestion hence being called an ‘invitation’. After said invitation, we then gathered in a circle and shared our experiences of whatever task it was we were asked to do.

Once again, this is a safe place and if you don’t feel like sharing there is no pressure, silence is also welcome! At the end of our walk, we gathered in one final circle, where we drank some herbal tea and shared our thoughts about our overall experience and what we learned along the way.

Our walk lasted about an hour, however, this can vary depending on your guide and what they have planned.

Photo by Gustavo Queiroz


As well as allowing you to completely unplug, forest bathing has been scientifically proven to have an array of health benefits such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and boosting your immune system, while just two hours of mindful immersion in a forest setting can have measurable immune-boosting effects for up to 10 days!

Did you know?

Believe it or not, forest bathing has been around for quite some time. It was brought to the fore by the Japanese (who call it ‘shinrin-yoku’) in the 80s as a way to cope with stress-related health issues, while the ancient Celts in Ireland called it ‘tig allais’. Although the Japanese embraced this form of ecotherapy, it’s not a completely new practice as the concept has been adopted by many cultures since time began.

Where to try it

While forest bathing can be an unstructured solo activity there are numerous certified guides around Ireland to help you with the forest bathing experience.

  • Glengarriff Forest Therapy
  • Blackstairs Eco Trails
  • Killeavy Castle Estate with Ann Ward
  • Forest Bathing with Amanda Marren
  • Birr Castle Demesne (a forest bath is included as partof the general admission ticket)
  • Boyle Valley Forest Bathing