Trees heal us in a medicinal sense – many common pharmaceutical products come from tree bark and leaves – but increasingly people are recognising that they can help us psychologically too. Being in a green space and reconnecting with nature can be deeply soothing in these weird and troubled times. It can help us to breathe more deeply, think more clearly, feel less stressed.
In Japan shinrin-yoku means forest bathing – the practice of walking amongst trees, smelling them, touching them, sitting down and leaning against them, feeling a sense of their age and wisdom. Japanese scientists say that forest bathing can help to lower our heart rates and blood pressure, as well as boost our immune systems and feelings of wellbeing.
Science aside, simply going out for a woodland walk can give us a little time and space to think through our feelings, regain some perspective on our troubles, and help us feel calmer. In the Tatton Park garden there is even an outdoor area dedicated to forest bathing, the Pinetum, where you can sit and marvel at the towering pine trees overhead.
As well as going for a walk, there are other ways to become more connected with nature. Perhaps you can join a community garden group in the spring, or volunteer for a conservation project? Plant a few seeds and start planning for your garden or window box when springtime comes around.