Nature Medicine – It works!

A Case Study

Dear A,

I just wanted to let you know what’s been happening since my WanderWomen forest-bathing session a few weeks back. First of all I have to say how much I loved it!

It’s the only thing I have done as part of a group since before lockdown and it was just amazing to feel instantly at home and safe with a group of relative strangers.

I feel blessed to still be in full-time paid employment, but lockdown has not been easy, working from home and trying to maintain a high level of practical and emotional support to my clients, many of whom suffer from poor mental health and addiction issues.

I am now back in the community and able to meet in person, but of course this brings its own concerns.

Not long after lockdown began I started to suffer low-level migraine-type headaches.

They would last for about a fortnight before easing off. I tend to wake up feeling dizzy and nauseous, sea-sick almost.

When I try to get up I feel everything around me spinning. A couple more attempts, but no… I had to cancel work that day and stay in bed with the curtains pulled.

The pain and nausea continued to the weekend, with pain particularly pronounced behind my eyes and mild feelings of nausea.

I felt so exhausted by the whole thing and felt that if I could just get outdoors, and move a little this might help.

I thought back to our session and how great I felt afterwards and decided I could manage a spot of forest bathing!

I have woods very close to my home and took a gentle meander.

I tried to recreate the guided journey you took us on.

I walked silently for 15 minutes or so, just observing, listening to the sounds of bird song, the wind in the tress, and the sounds of moving water.

I followed with some of the deep breathing exercises you taught us.

Finally I sat on the forest floor, back straight against a large beech tree.

I touched the floor and let my mind just…rest.

I have no idea how long I was there for, but I felt so grounded, so connected to my surroundings.

As on the WanderWomen day I felt an overwhelming wave of emotion rise to the surface and then gently dissipate.

I’m not embarrassed to say a few tears fell, after all who cares? The rabbits bouncing past me certainly didn’t!

I woke up the next morning full of dread that I would have to call in to work again.

But guess what…? No headache! For the first time in 10 days…no pain whatsoever.

Now, I cannot claim that one forest-bathing session cured me, but I am convinced that owning the power to improve my own well-being has been a huge benefit.

When I attended your session I thought I knew what forest bathing was….but really, I did not.

I often spend time in the woods, but it is ‘busy time’ for me, photographing, foraging, walking at a fast pace or climbing hills to get some cardio exercise.

I learned from you that forest-bathing is more than that, and it is less than that.

The woods are a place where I can take deep breaths, where I can meditate, where I feel hidden and safe, where I can just ‘be’.

I haven’t had a headache since and just at the right time my employer has declared that all employees should take one hour per week (or 4 hours over a month) out of work time for individual well-being activity.

So my Outlook diary now shows ‘forest-bathing’ every Thursday or Friday and I am extolling the virtues to anyone who will listen!

So…a big thank you from me, it was a small step and a giant leap at the same time.

I wouldn’t have known how to get the most out of this without your gentle guidance.

I feel I have some kind of control over my physical and mental well-being.

And no need for pain-killers!

Thank you so much, this is a very precious thing you do,

J. xxx

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