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Just Breathe...what a morning in the forest taught me

I had a pretty difficult week, it really has taken a lot out of me in terms of energy and resilience and I’ve been left feeling exhausted, tearful and negative.

As if it were meant to be, an opportunity popped up for me to take part in an immersive forest-based mindfulness morning. Not necessarily the kind of thing I might usually jump at, but it felt like the timing was right, and after some recent challenges, I felt like it might be worth giving anything a go.

I arrived in several layers of thermals, trying to silence my inner cynic so that I could engage with an open mind - a challenge in itself. It was a massive shock to find that within the first 20 minutes, I felt like I had experienced some kind of epiphany. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and persuade you all to start forest bathing immediately, but I really did learn something important which I’d like to share.

Being outdoors in the cold November air, I was encouraged by my guide to breathe. Really breathe in and out, let go, listen, look, experience, but most of all breathe. In those first 20 minutes, I realised just how much tension, stress, negative emotion I’ve been holding in, just in order to keep in control, not open the flood gates, just keep going for the sake of everyone around me. I felt like I had forgotten to breathe in for the last few weeks, I hadn’t filled my lungs with air and I hadn’t let myself breathe out some of the tension either. Feeling that air fill my lungs took over all of my thoughts for those few moments, and it was just the break I needed.

It’s such a simple process that felt like the start of a road to repair, breathing in and out. 3 hours in the forest didn’t overcome the problems that I have faced recently, but it did help me to feel much better equipped to deal with them. Just taking a bit of time to focus, think and breathe was much more powerful than I could have anticipated.

I think that we can all probably benefit from taking some time to breathe. You may have heard of techniques such as square breathing (if not, look it up!), you need no equipment, you can use them anywhere, all you need is 10 minutes. The most important thing though, is to allow yourself enough time to stop and really breathe. Plan it in for a few minutes each day, I certainly am, but most importantly, give it a go, remember to breathe.


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