The Simple Things
A spot of forest bathing in Austria is a holiday with a difference – combining relaxation, stunning scenery and getting outdoors
We all know the boost we can get from heading outdoors and immersing ourselves in nature, be it a walk in the woods, a picnic by a shimmering lake or perhaps a day trip to a local beauty spot. So imagine the wellbeing benefits that can be gleaned from a holiday to a destination where the landscapes are simply jaw dropping and the opportunities to get up close to nature are second to none. Whether you’re looking to get active or to completely switch off and recharge your batteries, Austria offers something for all of us.
But what is it about being in nature that helps to focus our minds, ease any worries and boost happiness? One popular concept is the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, the process of switching off – quite literally – from the modern world and reconnecting with nature through your senses. Research shows that, as well as producing oxygen, trees also release biochemicals called phytoncides to warn other trees and to defend themselves against harmful bacteria. Breathing in these phytoncides has an anti-microbial effect on our bodies, which can help to boost the immune system.
FOLLOW YOUR NOSE
Forest bathing isn’t about exercise or getting to a destination, either, but about being in the moment – you may choose to wander without purpose, letting your senses guide you, or you may prefer to stop and sit, absorbing the sounds, smells, colours, textures and tastes that surround you. The experience will be different for everyone – some may be drawn to the damp earthy scents, others will delight in the rich palette of seasonal colours dappled in sunlight, or you may feel yourself unwind simply by closing your eyes and listening. However, you chose to enjoy forest bathing, the benefits are clear with studies linking it to reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, anxiety and high blood pressure, while mood and creativity are boosted.
“Humans still operate on the same software as in the Stone Age,” says wood expert and former forester Edwin Thoma. “And that’s why spending time in nature is so refreshing. The biochemicals trees exchange are a true elixir for us humans.”
SPOILT FOR CHOICE
With six national parks and almost half the country covered in forest, Austria’s diverse landscape has plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. Even its capital, Vienna, is famed for being the world’s greenest city. No matter the appeal, Austria offers the ideal destination to recharge and revive. So start planning your trip now and unlock the rewards that a backto-nature holiday can deliver.
For more information, visit austria.info.