Information session offers insight into Forest Bathing

By: Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Timmins Public Library is offering a virtual information session about the Japanese practice of forest bathing.
Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, allows participants to connect with nature, reduce stress and alleviate the feeling of loneliness, said a certified forest therapy guide Aimée Lavoie.
Led by Lavoie, the upcoming event will discuss the history of forest bathing, its benefits and how it can be practised.
It will be held via Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.
“It’s a wellness practice that exploded in popularity in Europe and North America over the past five, 10 years,” Lavoie said.
Mark Joron, who’s a woodland supervisor at EACOM Timber Corporation, will also be on hand, talking about the trails in Timmins that people can access if they want to get out to a forested area.
Regular in-person forest bathing sessions can take up to four hours, while virtual sessions usually last for an hour, according to Lavoie.
Some of the health benefits of forest therapy include reduced levels of stress and blood pressure, a boosted immune system and reduced impacts of anxiety and depression, Lavoie said. It can also be practised from one’s backyard or indoors, just standing by a window.
“By connecting with nature, we learn how to give back and how to find our place in nature again,” she said. “People, who pay attention to the natural environment, come to love it and are proven to be more likely to be engaged in activities that protect the land or work for its wellbeing.”
The Timmins library’s reference assistant Kayleigh Rideout said the library was initially planning to do in-person guided walks at Hersey Lake.
Because of the pandemic, the event had to be shifted online, she said, but the library is hoping to have an in-person session in the future. Another possible event the library is considering is having a virtual walk, so people can join from their own spots whether it be on a trail or at home.
“Not only does (Lavoie) know about forest bathing, she knows a lot about the Timmins forest in specific, which is really cool because you might be able to find some things about forest bathing online but it might not apply to our environment or our northern forest,” Rideout said.
Timmins library also has several books about forest bathing that can be accessed online.
Lavoie, who’s been training and practising forest therapy for almost a year, currently offers virtual forest therapy experiences through her business called Bunchberry Nature Walks. When pandemic restrictions are eased, she hopes to offer in-person guided experiences as well.
“Forest therapy is about repairing our relationships with ourselves and each other, and with the land and nature,” she said.
To register for the event, email or call the library at 705-360-2623, ext. 8531.