Find a Forest

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Are you having one of those crazy Mondays when you can’t reply to emails fast enough? Well, you need to make sure you take some real time out. One of the best ways to relax is to take a walk, says Dr Aaron Michelfelder, professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Even better, he says, is to take a walk in the woods. When we walk in a forest pulse rate, blood pressure and stress hormones decrease, while white blood cells increase. He cites research by Japanese scientists who found that walking in the woods, or as they call it “forest bathing” could also stimulate immune function. Plants in the forest emit phytoncides, essential wood oils that protect them from pests and decay. When humans breathe these in, natural killer cell activity is increased. If you can’t make it to the woods, at least try to stay away from electronic toys, he suggests. Instead try reading, writing, meditating or yoga. If yoga sounds like something your girlfriend does on Saturday while you watch the rugby, try some chilled out thinking with meditation.