SHINRIN-YOKU — Jacquie Medina sits with students at shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing, event to focus on the nature present around them in order to relax.
SHINRIN-YOKU — Jacquie Medina sits with students at shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing, event to focus on the nature present around them in order to relax.
Photo Courtesy of Jes Thompson

Forest bathing event allows participants to relax in the middle of campus

The forest bathing walk took place on Monday, April 22, 2024. The event was held in the academic mall and included breakout sessions that walked throughout different areas on campus.

The event began with an explanation and discussion of forest bathing and the benefits of it. After this, the optional breakout sessions occurred, allowing participants to practice and experience forest bathing. 

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is a practice that originated in Japan during the 1980s and 1990s and places great emphasis on really focusing on the nature present around you in order to relax, allowing participants to achieve numerous benefits.  

“Some of those benefits include a boost in your immune system, a boost in your mood, reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure, increased sense of relaxation and mental clarity. So, both physical and mental benefits,” said Dr. Jacquie Medina, outdoor recreation leadership and management who coordinated the event. 

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This event took place on Earth Day, allowing participants to enjoy the benefits of forest bathing and appreciate the earth. 

Photo Courtesy of Jes Thompson.

“It allows you to reconnect and remember your relationship with nature,” Medina said. “It is a way to help people reconnect and gain those health benefits.”

This event was a collaboration between NMU’s Outdoor Recreation, SHINE, and WellBeing, which allowed an integration of departments across campus. 

Being in the center of campus also allowed participants to drop by and experience this wellness practice with as much or as little time as they had. This was at no cost to participants, nor were they required to bring any additional materials.

“This is why Northern is different from other campuses, because of our landscape and where we are located,” said Dr. Jes Thompson, assistant vice president of sustainability and SHINE director. 

Thompson, who was also a participant in the forest bathing event, expressed the importance of this event being held right on campus, rather than the other natural areas Marquette has to offer.

“When it was over, I was like ‘What day is it, what time is it, do I need to go back to my office?’ I have not been that relaxed in the middle of campus, ever,” Thompson said. 

Medina also shared her thoughts on having this event in the center of Northern’s campus.

“It was the appreciation I had for the trees and the lawns and the natural spaces we actually have on our campus. Sometimes we pass them, but we do not stop,” Medina said. “And today was all about stopping, noticing, and spending time with them.”

Monday’s event also took place when many students and faculty were stressed about the end of the semester nearing. Having this event before finals week allowed participants to de-stress for a few hours. 

“For both the physiological and psychological benefits, especially right now, to give people that chance to reduce stress and increase mental clarity … some of the benefits of forest bathing,” Medina said.

As for future events, participants were interested in learning more about forest bathing and having more opportunities to do this. Medina will also be offering a Health and Human Performance (HHP) course this coming fall semester.

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