A chat about ParkBathe

Have you heard of forest bathing? It’s a clinically-proven health prescription developed in Japan in the 1980s that involves walking slowly in nature while absorbing the atmosphere. Local author Vanessa Potter and health researcher Kirsten McEwan have brought the concept to Crystal Palace Park as part of an experimental project called ParkBathe. Find out more about this project and book one of their FREE sessions starting from 18 September!

Could you tell me about the concept of ParkBathe and how your project got started?

ParkBathe is the brainchild of Vanessa Potter, a local wellbeing author and producer. It is a Citizen Science cum Podcast Project that has been funded by the National Lottery to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents. Dr Kirsten McEwan, a health researcher and Vanessa are now offering FREE Forest Bathing sessions in Crystal Palace Park from 18th to 21st September with more sessions in October.

Vanessa has experienced first hand how mindful practices and nature can be enormously healing when she found herself blind and paralysed one morning in 2012. Walking in nature and meditation proved to be some of the most effective tools in her recovery arsenal.

Forest Bathing (Shinrin Yoku) is a clinically-proven health prescription that was developed in Japan in the 1980s. It involves walking slowly in nature while absorbing the woodland atmosphere via the senses. It sounds too simple to be effective — but the research speaks for itself ! It can help with sleep, heart, breathing and somatic conditions and has been proven to lower stress, anxiety and depression. In a small pilot study we ran in the park to trial the “ParkBathe” method, our participants experienced a 21% reduction in anxiety and a whopping 42% reduction in rumination or thinking obsessively after just 1 hour.

Why did you choose Crystal Palace Park (obviously, it’s the best park!)

We chose Crystal Palace Park as it offers access to ancient woodland (the Great North Woods) and is surrounded by lower socio-economic areas, which includes some of the harder to reach groups we are actively inviting to participate. We also want to champion the history, culture and biodiversity hosted within the park and will be interviewing park-based groups to see what mysteries the park has hidden within the shrubbery. Kirsten is a qualified Forest Bathing guide so she has rooted out some rather special (and quieter) spots in which to run the walking sessions!

Anyone over 16 can book a walking session via Eventbrite HERE if they’d like to experience a 1 hour guided walk that will calm their mind, improve their health and wellbeing and make them part of an exciting Citizen Science study looking into Green Health initiatives.

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