Thursday 9th February 2023
As I watched the children sprinting towards me in the nature area, it seemed appropriate that mental health week was here and that I had decided to explore the idea of slowing life down.
We began with a spot of forest bathing (Shinrin Yoku, as practised by the Japanese), among the trees, taking a deep breath through the nose and blowing out slowly through the mouth. I explained how this slows your heart rate down and brings your blood pressure down. I then asked the children to look around and share something that they can see which makes them feel calm or peaceful. Their answers were delightful as we progressed round the tree stumps...
" Watching the clouds drifting..."
"Looking up at the blue sky through the branches of this tree...."
"Listening to the birds singing..."
"Looking at the way the ivy is shaking on the tree trunk..."
"Hearing the rustling of the branches..."
" Seeing the snowdrops heads nodding..."
I then talked to them about why trees are good for us when we touch them and smell them. The atoms vibrating inside the trunk cause positive changes in our bodies and the act of hugging a tree increases the level of the hormone oxytocin. Finally, even that woody oily smell is very good for our immune systems. This is because the essential wood oils emitted in the air called phytoncides increase the number of killer cells in your body.
After the Science, they watered all the fruit trees and had a go at the tree hugging. The session ended with their favourite activity at the moment- making up a story among the tree stumps. Bertie videoed it and we shared it with the class.