The Healing Powers of Costa Rica's Forests
Posted on 12/06/2017
Forest bathing has been percolating for a few years as a trend in the spa industry.
The back-to-basics wellness practice involves strolling quietly through the woods or rainforest (depending on your location), spending quality time with the trees in order to relax and center your energy and thoughts.
It’s a treatment that has practically grown in tandem with another nature-related practice called “earthing,” during which participants physically touch the ground with bare feet in order to absorb free electrons from the Earth that neutralize damage caused by free radicals.
Like forest bathing, earthing is best done in relaxing outdoor locations, including the forest or the beach.
The fact that these emerging wellness activities rely on natural resources abundantly found in Costa Rica has not been lost on The Costa Rica Tourism Board, which has recently begun promoting the destination as a place to engage in both.
“Costa Rica is the perfect setting for detoxification from stress and the daily grind and now offers visitors inventive opportunities that extend beyond classic spa services and traditional yoga retreats,” states a release from the country’s tourism board.
Earthing, local officials note, can be practiced with a short barefoot walk along any one of the Costa Rica’s many pristine beaches or in its rainforests.
In the highlands of Costa Rica’s Central Valley region, visitors can also absorb the Earth’s natural energy by visiting Irazu, one of two active volcanoes. This type of communion with nature has been shown to aid in diminishing chronic pain and inflammation while also combatting fatigue and improving sleep. (Pretty notable benefits for a volcano visit.)
In the south Pacific corner of the island, visitors will find the Osa Peninsula, a haven of unspoiled beauty that is also a good place for earthing.
Home to 75 percent of Costa Rica’s bird population, Arenal Volcano National Park provides endless opportunities for walking and connecting with nature.
Travelers could also try forest bathing at Monteverde, a place that sits amongst the clouds high above Costa Rica’s Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. The area has been recognized around the world for its conservation and preservation efforts and is the location of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve.
For those still not convinced that these two activities actually constitute bonafide wellness therapies, a number of studies have shown that forest bathing, in particular, has significant positive impacts including lowered cortisol (the stress hormone), lowered blood pressure and reduced depression, according to The Costa Rica Tourism Board. It is a practice that has been popular in Japan since the1980s, where it is called shinrin-yoku.
PHOTO: Costa Rica tourism officials say spending time walking near
volcanoes is a good way to commune with nature. (photo via Pixabay)