Returning to nature is something that many of us don’t do enough of these days. A simple walk along the beach, through a forest, or up a mountain can do wonders for your mental and emotional health, which is why MONQ provides essential oil blends Ocean, Forest, and Mountain. Feel the benefits of these elements of nature, even when you’re indoors, with a personal aromatherapy diffuser.
Do you remember the last time you woke up before the crowds and went on a nostalgic walk along the beach? Or the last time you went on a walk through the forest simply to breathe it in? Think about how these experiences made you feel. They likely brought you a small pocket of peace in the midst of a busy world.
Before cities became more widespread, our ancestors were more connected to nature on a daily basis. Now that many of us live in large cities, it becomes more and more difficult to escape to nature. Some people attempt to bring nature to them in the form of small gardens or indoor plants. Others take weekend trips to “get away from it all”. While there is no true replacement for watching the sun rise above the sea or experiencing a sunset from the summit of a mountain, there are ways to recreate the feelings you get from these experiences.
Nature is filled with beneficial terpenes. Terpenes are naturally occurring hydrocarbons that are most often found in plants, but can also be found in animals and insects. They offer a wide variety of therapeutic effects, from easing anxiety, to supporting respiratory health, to reducing inflammation in the body. Simply breathing in these terpenes can promote general well-being, and they are one of the main reasons why spending time in nature is so therapeutic.
When you don’t spend a lot of time in nature, you need to get these terpenes in a different form. This is why essential oils are so beneficial. Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts, each with its own unique blend of terpenes. Just the scent of lavender can ease feelings of stress and anxiety, while a whiff of eucalyptus can immediately clear the sinuses.
MONQ’s Ocean, Forest, and Mountain blends aim to recreate the feeling you get while spending time in these places. By breathing this unique blend of essential oils, you can instantly be transported back to a time when life was simpler—even if just for a moment. When using MONQ, remember to breathe gently into your mouth and out through your nose. MONQ should not be inhaled into the lungs.
The scent of the sea, the wind in your hair, the feeling of sand between your toes. There’s nothing quite like taking a quiet stroll along the beach. Unfortunately, many of us don’t live near the coast. How can you bring the calming aspects of the ocean to you? MONQ’s Ocean blend is a unique combination of 19 different essential oils. The terpenes in these oils work together to bring you the same peaceful feeling that you’d get from a day at the shore.
The three main essential oils in this blend are eucalyptus, lime, and tangerine. The rest of the essential oils help to round out the blend and give you the experience of breathing in the fresh ocean air.
Eucalyptus essential oil is known for its abilities to ease respiratory symptoms, stimulate the mind, fight fatigue, soothe tense muscles and relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. Although eucalyptus oil is composed of dozens of terpenes and other compounds, its main constituents are 1,8-cineole, a-pinene, b-pinene, a-phellandrene, d-limonene, camphor and sabinene.
If you’ve ever experienced heartburn, then you know how bad it can feel. In addition to over the counter medicines, […]
When it comes to determining which crystals are the most famous it will depend on what perspective you are considering. […]
Sinusitis—an infection or inflammation of the sinuses— is an incredibly common affliction.1 Often caused by allergies or illness, sinus inflammation results […]
Eucalyptus is especially beneficial for the respiratory system and can help alleviate symptoms of the common cold. Its antimicrobial properties help fight off bacteria and illnesses that are causing respiratory symptoms, and simply breathing in this oil can clear mucus and make breathing easier. Eucalyptus also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which can help ease the pain of sore muscles and joints and reduce headache pain. Breathing in eucalyptus essential oil or simply diffusing it throughout a room can help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety and fight off fatigue.
Lime essential oil is extremely invigorating and can help fight off feelings of fatigue and keep the mind alert. It is also known for its abilities to reduce pain, ease sore muscles and boost mood. Lime essential oil is primarily composed of a-pinene, b-pinene, caryophyllene, cineole, limonene, linalool, myrcene and sabinene, among other terpenes.
Lime has an uplifting scent that can instantly boost your mood and fight off feelings of stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It helps to promote mental clarity and can help boost energy and increase focus in times when you feel your mind is wandering. Because of its high limonene content, lime essential oil supports the immune system to help fight off illnesses before you develop symptoms.
Tangerine essential oil has a remarkable ability to heal wounds, reduce spasms, improve metabolic function and lift the spirit. Tangerine essential oil is composed of a-pinene, b-pinene, camphene, citronellol, limonene, linalool, myrcene, neral, and others.
Tangerine essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in all systems of the body. This oil also has antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties that can help fight off infections and keep you from becoming ill. If you’re feeling a bit under the weather and need a quick pick-me-up, tangerine essential oil comes to the rescue. It is an incredibly energizing oil and can help fight off fatigue and boost your mood. A simple breath of this oil can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, ease mood swings and improve mental clarity.
Other oils in this blend include:
The uplifting, citrusy aroma of bergamot helps to ease digestive issues, prevent infections, alleviate pain, balance hormones, ease feelings of stress and anxiety, reduce fever and promote proper respiratory function.
The crisp woodsy scent of Douglas fir can ease negative emotions, promote proper breathing and respiratory function, boost energy, flush out toxins, speed the healing of minor cuts and scrapes, improve mental clarity and ease the pain of sore muscles.
Geranium has a delightful floral scent, and can help balance hormones, improve the appearance of skin, alleviate feelings of depression, level out mood swings, promote a proper sleep, improve circulation and reduce menopausal symptoms.
The bold, uplifting scent of lemon helps to reduce nausea, improve concentration, support oral health, soothe the digestive system, reduce stress, improve respiratory function, support the immune system, and promote proper wound healing.
Litsea cubeba is a small tree native to Southern China and Tropical Southeast Asia. Its essential oil has a citrusy scent and can help alleviate symptoms of digestive issues, support the respiratory system, reduce the risk of infection and illness, boost skin health, ease muscle pain and boost the mood.
Peppermint has an uplifting, menthol scent and can help support the digestive system, ease the pain of headaches, improve focus, boost cognitive function, improve circulation and ease symptoms of respiratory issues.
Ylang ylang can improve the quality of sleep, ease pain and reduce inflammation, promote proper healing of wounds and soothe nervous tension. The floral scent is incredibly soothing and can help alleviate high levels of stress and anxiety while relaxing the body and mind.
Cedarwood has a deep, woodsy aroma and can help prevent infection, improve the appearance of skin, relieve symptoms of PMS, alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, strengthen hair and improve the quality of sleep.
Juniper leaf essential oil is steam distilled from the juniper shrub and can help support the digestive and immune systems, boost skin and hair health, relieve nervous tension, reduce the pain of sore muscles, improve circulation, relieve feelings of fatigue and boost the mood.
Lemongrass essential oil is very mood lifting and can reduce inflammation, promote better sleep, prevent infections, support the immune system, relax tense muscles and alleviate feelings of stress.
Manuka essential oil is incredibly powerful and can calm a frazzled mind, promote feelings of relaxation, heal wounds, reduce inflammation, prevent infections and soothe scalp problems.
Scotch pine has a fresh, woodsy scent, and can reduce pain, treat skin problems, support the immune and respiratory symptoms, flush out toxins and alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety while boosting mood.
Cypress leaf essential oil has a fresh, earthy aroma and can speed up the healing of wounds, prevent infections, ease the pain of sore muscles, treat skin conditions and remove toxins from the body. It can also help reduce respiratory symptoms and soothe feelings of stress and anxiety while promoting relaxation.
Frankincense essential oil is known for being incredibly relaxing and beneficial when used during meditation. This oil can also improve the quality of sleep, improve cognitive function, support the digestive, respiratory, and immune systems, promote healthy skin and reduce stress.
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils and is especially good at easing feelings of stress and anxiety and promoting a proper sleep. Lavender can also protect against bacterial and viral infections, improve cognitive function, support the respiratory system, and improve skin and hair health.
Neroli has an uplifting floral citrus aroma that can instantly lift your mood. This essential oil is also known for its abilities to improve skin conditions, reduce cortisol levels, reduce pain and inflammation, support the digestive system and ease the pain of sore muscles.
The combination of these essential oils is uplifting, playful, and energizing. Ocean is a liberating blend of uplifting oils that can instantly boost your mood and give you feelings of freedom and adventure.
There is something about walking along a deserted beach that can trigger feelings of nostalgia. Perhaps the scent of the sea reminds you of your childhood, or the feel of the wind on your face reminds you of the first time you took a trip away from home. Waking up before the crowds and taking a stroll along the beach can allow you plenty of time to reflect on life. Nostalgia is often thought of as a sentimental longing for past experience. It can be triggered by almost anything – a certain scent, a particular piece of music, or even a type of weather. If you’re aware of the particular stimulus that triggers nostalgic feelings, you can even recreate them whenever you like. While some may consider this to be frivolous daydreaming, nostalgia is much more complicated than that. Researchers have found that engaging in nostalgic thoughts can actually be beneficial for mental health!
While all of the senses can trigger feelings of nostalgia, the scent is perhaps the most powerful. A 2004 study published in Chemical Senses gave adults olfactory, visual, and auditory cues and then asked questions about memories that were triggered. These cues included a campfire, freshly-cut grass, and popcorn. The results showed that the memories triggered by the cues in olfactory form were much more emotional than those presented in visual or auditory form. Participants expressed that they felt as though they had traveled back in time when given olfactory cues, whereas the other cues simply triggered a memory.1
When a scent enters the nose, it travels from the cranial nerve to the olfactory bulb, which is what helps the brain process smells. The olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that deals with emotions. The amygdala is another part of the limbic system and plays a large role in emotional memories. Since the olfactory bulb is connected to the amygdala, the brain can instantly associate a certain scent with a particular memory.
When we experience nostalgia, the reward centers in the brain are activated. This is true whether the nostalgic memory is positive or neutral, but is not the case if the memory is unpleasant. Triggering memories from your past that may not seem particularly positive or important can give you a rush of pleasure even if the experience itself didn’t make you feel that way at the time. A simple walk through the streets of your hometown or listening to a song you used to hear as a child can give you a sense of peace and comfort.2
History of Nostalgia Therapy
Nostalgia used to be considered a psychological disorder, and was thought to be a root cause of depressive illnesses. It was often associated with soldiers who couldn’t bear their day to day existence and would instead yearn for a time back home. Psychologists would dissuade their patients from feeling nostalgic, believing that it only exacerbated negative feelings.
A shift in thinking began around the year 2000 when a psychology professor named Constantine Sedikides realized that his nostalgic memories of home brought him significant joy. Instead of bringing feelings of melancholy, they made him feel more optimistic about the future. This prompted further studies of nostalgia, focusing more on its benefits than its drawbacks. Research has found that nostalgia can promote greater empathy and connection with others, as well as be a powerful tool against alienation and feelings of loneliness. This new research has led to the use of nostalgia therapy for illnesses such as depression and Alzheimer’s.3
Although nostalgia is now thought of in a more positive light, there are still some potential drawbacks. While neutral or positive memories can activate the brain’s reward centers and bring us joy, negative memories can cause feelings of melancholy and depression. If an individual’s past was more joyful than their present, it is possible to become addicted to the emotions that nostalgia brings. Instead of focusing on improving the future, they become stuck in an endless loop of the past.
When nostalgia is used for growth, it can be a very valuable tool. Nostalgia therapy focuses on triggering positive nostalgia in order to decrease anxiety, increase optimism and self-esteem, and improve motivation.
Research has found that nostalgia can make people more tolerant of outsiders, more generous to strangers, and can counteract feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Nostalgia can bring people together in a way that almost nothing else can. It can increase feelings of empathy and community and provide a sense of optimism.
Studies have also found that feeling nostalgic can literally bring a feeling of comfort and warmth over the body. A study conducted in Southern China tracked students over the course of a month and kept record of when they were feeling nostalgic. The results showed that feelings of nostalgia were more common on cold days, and those who were nostalgic reported feeling warmer.4
Nostalgia and Aromatherapy
Scents have remarkable power over us. While the scent of your grandfather’s cologne or a childhood dessert may trigger a memory when you least expect it, the same emotional responses can be recreated through the use of aromatherapy. Many essential oils are known for their abilities to ease nervous tension and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Others have the ability to boost cognitive function, improve memory and reduce fatigue.
Nostalgia therapy, especially that used for Alzheimer’s patients, often focuses on music to trigger memories. However, aromatherapy and its use of scent is a powerful tool. Countless research on sensory memory has shown that olfactory stimuli elicits more emotional and realistic memories than other senses.5
Both nostalgia and aromatherapy can bring forth positive emotions and growth. Combining the two into a form of treatment can help patients who are looking for a natural way to ease negative emotions and gain optimism.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Thousands of studies have focused on the effects of aromatherapy on stress levels, sleep quality, and overall wellness. Lavender essential oil, in particular, is perhaps the most well-known essential oil for combating feelings of stress and anxiety. These studies have focused on pre-operative patients, postpartum mothers, dental patients, and many others.
One study published in 2016 tested the effects of lavender essential oil on stress, anxiety, and depression levels of postpartum mothers. Over 100 patients were separated into aromatherapy and non-aromatherapy groups. In the aromatherapy group, lavender essential oil was inhaled every 8 hours over the course of 4 weeks. The results showed that those in the aromatherapy group reported significantly lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression than those in the control group. This was true for both one month and three months after delivery. 6
In another study published in 2012, researchers aimed to determine the effects of sweet orange essential oil on anxiety. Forty male volunteers were split into a sweet orange group, a tea tree group, and a control (water) group. The results of the study showed that those who inhaled sweet orange essential oil reported less tension and more tranquility than those in the other groups.7
While lavender has a soothing, almost soporific effect on negative feelings, citrus oils have the ability to uplift the mood and boost optimism. Both are wonderful choices for combating stress and anxiety; citrus oils are a great way to boost energy and start your day, and lavender oil is a wonderful way to wind down at night and relax.
Using Nostalgia Therapy in Everyday Life
Everyone can benefit from nostalgia therapy, whether they are trying to get rid of negative thought patterns or simply trying to reduce anxiety levels on a daily basis. If you had an herb garden while growing up, try diffusing lavender or rosemary essential oil throughout your home to trigger positive memories. If your parents often brewed mugs of herbal tea, try diffusing Roman chamomile or peppermint. Aromatherapy is a powerful and natural way of easing stress and promoting a more positive outlook on life. By triggering positive memories, you can regain self-confidence and the motivation to shape your future in a positive way.
Try to dig deep into your memory and think of a time in your life where you felt at peace. What sort of scents can lead you back to this feeling? Maybe it’s the floral scents of ylang ylang and geranium, the meditative scents of frankincense and sandalwood, or the herbaceous scents of basil and sage. Whatever essential oil it may be, try incorporating it into your daily routine in some way. You can diffuse the oil throughout your home, add a few drops onto an aromatherapy necklace or take it on the go with an aromatherapy diffuser. MONQ’s Ocean blend is a unique, uplifting blend of oils that can instantly transport you back to pleasant memories of the past.
A walk through the woods can instantly promote a sense of peace. The feeling of being one with nature; letting all of your worries slip away while you breathe in the scents of pine and spruce. Every time you take a walk through a forest, you are breathing in thousands of beneficial terpenes. The rich diversity of plant life creates a unique combination of therapeutic effects that can instantly boost your mood and clear your mind. While it would be ideal to take a relaxing stroll through a forest on a daily basis, this isn’t realistic for most people. When you can’t get out into nature, bringing nature to you is second best. MONQ’s Forest blend contains 26 different essential oils. This unique blend is an enlightening mix of oils that mimic a walk through the woods and promotes a sense of peace.
The essential oils in Forest include:
- Black Spruce
- Cypress Leaf
- Dill Seed
- Douglas Fir
- Juniper Leaf
- Lemon Balm
- Scotch Pine
- Wild Orange
The three main oils in this blend are Black Spruce, Douglas Fir, and sandalwood. This woodsy, meditative blend is a perfect mix of forest scents. The accompanying mix of floral, citrus and herbaceous oils round out the blend.
Black spruce was originally used by the indigenous people of North America. Native Americans used extracts of black spruce for a wide variety of medicines to calm inflammation, heal wounds, relax muscles, and ease stress. Black spruce essential oil is primarily composed of camphene, a-pinene, delta-3-carene and bornyl acetate.
Black spruce essential oil is often used to heal wounds, prevent infections, ease respiratory ailments and support the endocrine system. It can also be used to improve mental clarity, relax the mind and ease feelings of stress and anxiety.
Douglas fir essential oil has a sweet, woody scent that is reminiscent of the holidays or an autumn camping trip. Its main terpenes include sabinene, a-pinene, b-pinene, delta-3-carene, terpinolene, camphene, limonene, and bornyl acetate. The combination of these terpenes gives Douglas fir its powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Douglas fir essential oil can be used to ease feelings of stress and anxiety, support the immune and respiratory systems, boost energy, flush toxins and improve focus. It can also be used to ease the pain of sore muscles, promote proper healing of minor wounds, and prevent infections.
Sandalwood essential oil is very popular in aromatherapy due to its relaxing properties. If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, simply diffusing sandalwood can promote peace and a meditative atmosphere. It is also known for its abilities to reduce headache pain, promote mental clarity and improve sleep quality.
Sandalwood essential oil is primarily composed of sesquiterpenes including a-Santalol and b-Santalol. This oil can be used to fight off infections, reduce inflammation, ease spasms, reduce pain, and alleviate stress and anxiety. It can be diffused throughout your home, added to a bath or mixed into a relaxing massage oil.
The addition of essential oils such as floral geranium, spicy ginger, uplifting lime, and stimulating peppermint create a blend that perfectly mimics the wide range of plants you’d encounter while walking through a forest. The wide range of oils also contributes many different terpenes, so you’re getting a powerhouse of therapeutic effects without ever leaving your home.
It is difficult to recreate the perfectly crisp scent of mountain air. There’s just something about being so far away from the hustle and bustle of the city that makes you feel as though you’re breathing clean air for the first time. MONQ’s Mountain blend is about as close as you can get to that fresh mountain air without hiking up the side of the mountain yourself. While getting your blood pumping on a crisp morning hike can do wonders for your health, many of us don’t live near the mountains.
Mountain is a fresh blend of seven different essential oils, including:
The three main oils in this blend are juniper leaf, peppermint, and Scotch pine. This clean, fresh blend of oils is rounded out by additional pine, citrus, and herbal scents that perfectly recreate the crisp air of the mountains.
Juniper leaf essential oil has been used for centuries as a diuretic, antiseptic, and in purification rituals. It has been used for its disinfecting properties, as well as its abilities to boost mental clarity, reduce stress and improve memory. This essential oil is composed of a wide variety of terpenes, including a-terpinene, bornyl acetate, p-cymene, myrcene, camphene, sabinene, b-pinene, cineole, a-pinene, caryophyllene, and many others.
Juniper leaf essential oil can be used to promote healthy skin and hair, boost the immune system, reduce fatigue, relieve stress and anxiety, prevent arthritis, and ease muscle pain. It can also be used to support the digestive system, flush toxins from the body, purify the blood, get rid of excess gas, and promote wound healing.
Peppermint essential oil plays a large role in aromatherapy. It has an instantly recognizable, energizing aroma that is due to the presence of menthol. This terpene (composing approximately 38.6% of the oil) provides peppermint oil with its antimicrobial, anti-candidal, carminative, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties. Other terpenes include menthone, 1,8 cineole, beta-caryophyllene, and limonene, among others.
Peppermint essential oil can be used to treat a wide variety of symptoms. It is often used to soothe digestive issues, improve oral hygiene, reduce the pain of headaches, boost focus, improve cognitive function and clear the respiratory tract. It can also be used to soothe sore muscles, improve circulation, and promote a positive mood.
Scotch pine essential oil is quintessentially woodsy, with a fresh scent reminiscent of a walk through a forest. It offers antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic, decongestant, diuretic, and expectorant properties. This is all due to its unique blend of terpenes, which include a-pinene, b-pinene, limonene, camphene, bornyl acetate, sabinene, and others. It has a high concentration of a-pinene, which is known for its ability to support the respiratory system and clear the sinuses.
Scotch pine essential oil can be used to reduce muscle and joint pain, flush toxins from the body, support the respiratory system, treat skin conditions, support the immune system, disinfect surfaces, and reduce feelings of stress and mental fatigue.
The mixture of oils in the Mountain blend is specifically crafted to bring peace and clarity to your day. By simply breathing in this blend, you can experience feelings of courage, resilience, and fortitude.
Both the Forest and Mountain blends provide benefits similar to those you would experience from forest bathing. This particular form of therapy – also referred to as forest therapy and Shinrin-yoku – started in Japan in the 1980s. Shinrin-yoku means “taking in the forest atmosphere”, and that is exactly what this form of therapy is.
What started in Japan has now spread throughout the world, with an abundance of recent research on the benefits of spending time in the forest. The concept is simple: spend time in nature without distractions. Put away your phone, walk in a relaxed manner, and simply breathe in the fresh air around you.
Forest bathing is both preventative health care and a natural way of healing. Some of the scientifically proven benefits of forest bathing include:
- Improved immune system function
- Lower levels of stress
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus
- Boost of energy
- Improved quality of sleep
- Accelerated recovery from illness and surgery 8
Now more than ever we are seeing the need to return to nature for a sense of peace and well-being. The forest is a place for reflection, meditation and healing.
Terpenes in the Forest
Depending on where you are in the world, the particular plant varieties within a forest vary. Terpenes are beneficial compounds produced by plants, and the wide range of plants results in a wide range of terpenes. Each has its own range of healing properties, from analgesic to antibacterial to anti-inflammatory.
Terpenes are secondary metabolites, meaning that they are not directly needed for the basic functions of a plant. However, they are useful for long-term survival within an environment. Secondary metabolites are often used for survival in the form of repelling harmful pathogens or attracting pollinators. Terpenes also act as deterrents to many pests that threaten the life of the plant.
The same terpenes produced by plants are found in essential oils. These highly concentrated plant extracts are a therapeutic powerhouse of terpenes, and blending essential oils together only enhances their benefits. This is why diffusing essential oils throughout your home or using a personal aromatherapy diffuser can produce the same beneficial effects as forest bathing.
Research on Forest Bathing
A study published in 2016 studied the effects of forest bathing on a group of people with significant mental illnesses. The study was conducted in Ireland and included a group of 15 people suffering from depression, bipolar, and anxiety disorders. The participants were led in a group walk for approximately two hours once a week for 13 weeks. The results showed that weekly forest bathing significantly increased mood, improved communication and encouraged participation. These weekly forest walks were a first step to re-engaging with society in a healthy way.9
In another study published in 2015, researchers found that forest bathing had positive effects on the blood pressure of middle-aged males. All participants had high-normal blood pressure. After forest bathing, subjects reported feeling significantly more relaxed. Levels of systolic and diastolic blood pressure, urinary adrenaline and serum cortisol were all significantly lower.10
While this next study doesn’t directly relate to forest bathing, it does shed some light on the positive effects of simply taking in the sight of nature to improve mood and enhance overall wellness. Records of patients in a Pennsylvania hospital were examined to determine whether or not a room with a view of nature has any effect on recovery. Researchers found that the 23 patients who had a view of nature from their room had shorter postoperative stays, fewer negative evaluative comments and took fewer analgesics than 23 patients with a view of a brick wall.11
Research has also found that a leisurely walk through the forest can improve immune system function, specifically increasing the activity and number of natural killer (NK) cells. The study included Japanese adults that participated in a 3-day, 2-night trip to forested areas. Levels of NK cells were taken on day 2 and 3 of the trip, as well as 7 and 30 days afterward. The results showed that the number and activity of NK cells were significantly higher during days of forest bathing. The levels remained elevated even after 30 days, suggesting that a forest bathing trip once a month could help boost the immune system.12
The studies based on the benefits of forest bathing are endless. Here are just a few other notable findings:
- Forest bathing increases activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which conserves energy, slows the heart rate, and promotes rest. This also means that the body’s stress-response system is not being triggered, which results in lower cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, weight gain, and memory impairment. Forest bathing can help reduce the risk of many of these illnesses.
- One study found that the concentration of cortisol was 13.4% lower in individuals who gazed on forest scenery for 20 minutes, compared to those in urban settings. Another study found that a forest walk can decrease cortisol by 12.4%, decrease sympathetic nerve activity by 7%, decrease blood pressure by 1.4%, and decrease heart rate by 5.8%.
- Men who took two hour walks in the forest over a two day period showed a 50% increase in natural killer cells.
- A study on a group of Outward Bound participants found that they performed 50% better on creative problem-solving tasks after three days on a backpacking trip. It is thought that forest therapy trips that last approximately 3 hours can produce similar effects.13
Using Forest Therapy in Your Own Life
There are no real “rules” when it comes to forest therapy. The only requirement is that you take time to consciously be in nature. This often means walking through a forest in a relaxed manner, breathing in the fresh scents around you, and leaving your worries behind. This could mean taking a quick stroll through a forest on a weekend afternoon, or taking a few days to really disconnect from society and immerse yourself in a multi-day camping trip.
The longer you spend in nature, the more benefits you’ll reap. Research has found that forest bathing can improve mood, increase feelings of health, significantly reduce stress, lower cortisol levels and boost the function of the immune system. If you can’t escape for a multi-day trip, even sneaking in a few minute walk on your way into work or during your lunch break can improve overall wellbeing.
Whether you’re in the forest for five minutes or five days, try to connect with nature through all of your senses. Take in the sight of the trees, the way the light hits the forest floor, and the unique variety of mushrooms and berries. Smell the fresh scent of pine and the crispness of the air. Touch the bark of a tree or a bed of moss. Listen to the way the wind sounds as it passes through the leaves and the songs of birds and insects. You shouldn’t taste any plants unless you’re completely sure they’re edible, but you can take along a simple snack in the form of fresh berries or herbal tea.
Forest bathing can benefit everyone. If you experience difficulty sleeping, overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety, or work in a high-stress environment, try taking a walk through the woods. Forest bathing can also help if you feel as though your immune system needs a boost, you have been feeling lethargic, or you feel unmotivated.
Reconnecting with Nature Through Essential Oils
If you simply don’t have the time or the resources to get out into nature on a frequent basis, you aren’t alone. Many of us are living in concrete jungles that are devoid of any trace of nature, let alone a whole forest full of beneficial terpenes. This is where essential oils come in to save the day. Luckily, there are plenty of essential oils that are derived from the same type of plants you’d experience in the forest. Douglas fir, Scotch pine, cedarwood, cypress leaf, and black spruce are just a small variety of oils derived from trees. They offer the same terpenes in a concentrated form, so diffusing them throughout your home is very similar to going on a forest walk, especially if you close your eyes and simply breathe in the fresh scent.
Here are just a few ways to add essential oils to your daily routine:
- Benefit from the antibacterial properties of Douglas fir essential oil by adding it to a homemade disinfecting spray. For added antibacterial properties, mix with lemon or tea tree. Add 10-15 drops in a spray bottle with water and use it to wipe down hard surfaces.
- Take advantage of the analgesic properties of Scotch pine essential oil by mixing a few drops with a carrier oil such as almond, jojoba or fractionated coconut. This blend can be used as a gentle massage oil on sore muscles and joints. You can also add a few drops of Scotch pine essential oil to a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes.
- Treat eczema or other problematic skin conditions with a blend of cedarwood essential oil and a carrier oil or unscented lotion. You can also strengthen your hair and prevent hair loss by adding a drop of cedarwood essential oil to your shampoo. Try adding a drop of this oil to your daily cleanser to heal acne and reduce future breakouts!
- Heal wounds and prevent infections by mixing a drop of cypress leaf essential oil with a carrier oil. Place this mixture onto a bandage and adhere to the affected area. Cypress leaf essential oil also has astringent properties, which can help remove excess sebum and minimize the look of pores when added to your skincare routine.
- Relax sore muscles and joints by adding a few drops of black spruce essential oil to your bath. Black spruce essential oil can also help speed up the repair of damaged muscles, tendons, and ligaments, improve circulation and reduce inflammation.
- Diffuse your favorite blend of essential oils throughout your home. You may choose a citrus blend to increase energy and focus in the morning, or a more relaxing blend of lavender and sandalwood to promote relaxation and a proper sleep at night.
- Take nature on-the-go with you in the form of a personal aromatherapy diffuser. MONQ’s Mountain, Forest, and Ocean blends are the perfect mix of fresh mountain air, a crisp walk through the forest and a relaxing stroll along the beach.
Nature provides invaluable therapeutic properties when we give it the chance. Simply taking a couple hours a week to immerse yourself into nature can provide both physiological and emotional benefits. Taking the time to stroll through a forest, hike up a mountain, or walk along the ocean shore takes you back to your ancestral roots and provides a grounding experience. This simple act of returning to nature can help boost the immune system, improve heart health, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity and so much more.
When you can’t escape the city but are looking for a grounding experience, essential oils can recreate these therapeutic benefits in the setting of your own home. Simply add a blend of your favorite oils to a diffuser, close your eyes, sit back, and relax.
PhotoCredits: IvanKurmyshov/shutterstock.com, Allforyoufriend/shutterstock.com, TerentievaYulia/shutterstock.com, jakkapan/shutterstock.com, Cerberoff/shutterstock.com, FabrikaSimf/shutterstock.com, craigrchanowski/shutterstock.com, srekap/shutterstock.com, GalynaAndrushko/shutterstock.com, TatianaKochkina/shutterstock.com, nd3000/shutterstock.com, soft_light/shutterstock.com, MadeleineSteinbach/shutterstock.com, Rawpixel.com/shutterstock.com