The complete guide to “Forest Bathing,” plus a roadmap to climate change mental health. The Food & Environment Reporting Network presents the Hot Farm podcast, and May 4th is Japan’s Greenery Day!
The Complete Guide to “Forest Bathing,” A Roadmap to Climate Change Mental Health, The Food & Environment Reporting Network, Japan’s Greenery Day!
MEET FERN, THE FOOD & ENVIRONMENT REPORTING NETWORK
According to the Food & Environment Reporting Network, (FERN), climate change is coming for your food. In the American Heartland, farmers are battling increasingly severe weather, with epic floods and heat. Agriculture accounts for an impossible to ignore 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so if we’re serious about fighting climate change, farmers need to be part of the solution.
Hence FERN. Founded in 2010 with the team of Samuel Fromartz, Tom Laskawy, Naomi Starkman and Paula Crossfield, FERN bills itself as the first independent, non-profit news organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism in the critically under-reported areas of food agriculture and environmental health.
We got hip to the Food & Environment Reporting Network from their four-part podcast series, “Hot Farm.”
According to its producers, “Hot Farm tells the stories of farmers who are experimenting with ways to use less water and chemicals, protect their soil and use renewable energy—as well as those who still need to be convinced that climate change is a man-made crisis that requires them to do things differently.
Hot Farm’s trailer dropped about 6 weeks ago. Its first episode was published on April 12, followed by part two a week later, and part 3 on April 26th. If all goes well, you’ll be some of the first to hear part four when it releases tomorrow, May 3rd.
Why does the work of FERN matter to us? As the protagonist, farmer Dave Bishop put it in part one of “Hot Farm”, “Change is hard. Once you have an entrenched system, the resistance to change is unbelievable.” We need more Dave Bishops if we are going to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions coming from U.S. agriculture. And in order to have more Dave Bishops, we need more of us to shoulder their support.
The “Hot Farm” podcast is just one of several reasons to support FERN. Check ‘em out at thefern.org, or click on the links in the Deeper Dive section of TheClimate.org/episodes to find out more.
MAY 4TH, JAPAN’S GREENERY DAY
Greenery Day or commonly known as ‘Midori no Hi’ in Japan, is a national holiday observed on May 4 every year. This holiday is celebrated in honor of the late Emperor Hirohito who was known for his fondness towards plants and nature.
It is said the emperor showed his true personality through his love of nature, respect for all living things, and confidence in the brotherhood of science. Emperor “Hirohito was a born naturalist.” Greenery Day is also called ‘Arbor Day’ or ‘Nature Day’. Since its establishment back in 1989, this occasion has been dedicated to encouraging the general public to be more appreciative of nature and to be grateful for its gifts and blessings.
One of the most common practices during Greenery Day is to participate in the Japanese tradition of Shinrin Yoku, or “forest bathing.” It’s been scientifically proven that the sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. They ease our stress and worry, help us to relax and to think more clearly. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.
Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world. Commune with nature this Greenery Day. It’s a great way to unwind and take a step back from one’s daily activities.
DR. QING LI’S BOOK ON “FOREST BATHING:…”
So what is this “forest bathing” of which you speak? If you’re unfamiliar, or unfamiliar-yet-curious, we recommend a lovely book called, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li. According to the publisher, this book–features more than 100 color photographs from forests around the world, including the forest therapy trails that crisscross Japan—
Dr. Qing Li, touted as the world’s foremost expert in forest medicine, is a medical doctor at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School. He’s been a visiting fellow at the Stanford University School of Medicine and is a founding member and chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine. He’s also a leading member of the Task Force of Forests and Human Health, and the vice president and secretary general of the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine.
In this book, Dr. Li shows how forest bathing can reduce your stress levels and blood pressure, strengthen your immune and cardiovascular systems, boost your energy, mood, creativity, and concentration, and even help you lose weight and live longer.
Once you’ve discovered the healing power of trees, you can lose yourself in the beauty of your surroundings, leave everyday stress behind, and reach a place of greater calm and wellness.
Of the book, Forest Bathing, Outside Magazine says, “A joyful guide . . . If there’s anyone who understands the magic of time spent under arboreal canopies, it’s Qing Li, the Japanese doctor who helped spread the gospel of shinrin-yoku (‘forest bathing’) around the world.” Mother Earth Living calls it, “A necessary read for anyone looking for new ways to help them relax.”
And Neil Pasricha, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation, wrote, this is “A stunningly beautiful book about . . . the life-changing magic of walking in the woods.”
And why does Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness matter to us? Because, as the book reviewer at OZY.com wrote, “A scientific argument for a walk in the woods.”
A ROADMAP TO CLIMATE CHANGE MENTAL HEALTH
You can’t take care of the planet without first taking care of yourself. That’s the motto for the Roadmap to Climate Change Mental Health, launched this month through a collaboration between Universal Music Group (UMG) and The Mental Health Coalition (MHC). The aim of the roadmap is to help the public navigate mental health issues triggered by climate change: eco-anxiety or climate trauma.
The roadmap defines terms like eco-anxiety, climate anxiety, eco-numbness, climate depression, climate grief, climate trauma and PTSD. It takes you through the connection between climate justice and mental health and looks at the roadblocks to action and how to overcome them.
The roadmap goes one step further and provides resources for mental health and action, which include:
- Disaster Distress Helpline
- Climate Justice Alliance
- Global Citizen
- Child Mind Institute
- Climate Mental health Network
- United Nations
Since its publication on Earth Day—April 22, 2022—over 25 million people have viewed or downloaded the resource.
Why does the Roadmap to Climate Change Mental Health matter to us? Dr Naomi Torres-Mackie, clinical psychologist and head of research for the Mental Health Coalition, explains, “We don’t talk about it often enough, but climate change impacts our mental health in a major way. The fears it can bring up, though, can be managed with purposeful action.