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forest bathing at helsbury park

Woodland sounds help relaxation more than meditation apps

Research by the National Trust finds that birdsong and rustling leaves increase relaxation by 30%.

The National Trust commissioned the research as part of an effort to get more people out into environments such as woodland.

It is flagging up the fact that the UK’s 3.19m hectares (7.8m acres) of woodland provide one of the most accessible places for people to relax in. A fifth of people never visit the woods, it says.

Patrick Begg, the trust’s director of outdoors and natural resources director, said: “Sometimes a simple walk in woodlands, where you’re surrounded by the echoes of calling birds, and that satisfying crunch of fallen leaves and twigs underfoot, is the perfect remedy for reducing stress.”

The National Trust cares for 26,000 hectares of woodland in England, Wales and Northern Ireland across 400 different sites, accounting for around 12m trees, 40,000 of which are classified as ancient, veteran and notable trees

It extols the virtue of “forest bathing” or shinrin-yoku, the mindful exploration of woodland first developed in Japan in the 1980s.

Eleanor Ratcliffe, a lecturer in environmental psychology at the University of Surrey, said: “There is a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating that experience of nature can benefit health and wellbeing, including recovery from everyday psychological stress. Much of this research has focused on visual experiences, but more recent work has shown that the sounds of the outdoors, such as birdsong, wind, and water, can also improve mood and reduce stress. These sounds offer a way to connect with nature no matter where you are.”

With around 50 acres of woodland available to you at Helsbury Park there’s no excuse not to spend time in this unique, ancient woodland environment and de-stress.