Renature Yourself

BY Natalija Špeh, PhD

Regarding the connection between cosmetics we could assure a lifestyle as a (natural) basis and cosmetics as an artificial upgrade. Act preventively not curatively, said our forefathers. They should be our influencers. But today we have many unhealthy influencers, eg. artificial food and cosmetics are advertised as ‘bio’ and ‘eco’ products. It is crucial to be selective in decision making for the really safe and healthy products.

Your mindset is visible after your bodystate and your body care affects your thoughts.

Vršnik Jože (Roban)

The sentences above and below are pretty actual, right? They were written by a reserved farmer and a shepherd, and above all the perfect nature follower, Vršnik Jože (lived from 1900-1973), almost 100 years ago. He had lived and worked at the Roban farm in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. And hand wrote quite a collection of interesting stories [1] he experienced during his modest life committed to nature, that taught him to see, to hear and to feel – nature. He did not trust a rushed world.

More than ever it is worth it to take some time to relax daily. Depends on individual interest, eg. gardening, you may find out the talent of ‘green fingers’. Or simple reading, quiet walking… not intensive sport necessarily. We can partly keep the sustainable and self-sufficient life, as Jože and his family practiced, introduced at their autarky farmstead. Without studying the circular economy idea.

“You will see what others do not see. You will hear what others do not. You will feel what others do not feel. You will seek what was never lost.” (V. J.)

Slowness strengthens memory

Today, a natural medicine would be called his life and workstyle, seasoned with a plenty of physical effort he invested daily in farming and foresting. Due to global woods’ devastation, also to grow industrial plants as sources for the chemical industry (cosmetics, medicine drugs) it is fair that we started to celebrate and honor forest as a therapeutic potential.

A forest and mountainous landscape of the Jože Vršnik wider living place.

(Author: Marijana Lihteneker)

Forest bath – the perfect relax

In the Japanese language it is called šinrin joku [2]. After its promoter, dr. Quing Li [3], forest bathing means experiencing the forest with all your senses; smell, hearing, sight, touch and taste. Forest medicine is increasingly recognised worldwide as an innovative branch of preventive medicine.

Forest bath boosts the immune system. A slightly longer walk in the woods is calming – 12 % lower blood cortisol levels, 7 % lower sympathetic nervous activity, 6 % lower heart rate. It takes some time (days, a week) to adopt a new habit. But it pays off well. The constant stress of urban environments changes the brain and people [4], unconsciously and unwittingly.

Šinrin joku stands for the sensful experience of the forest ecosystem.

Forest therapy is neither a nature walk nor a sports hike, but a calm and mindful walk in a forest or other natural environment, with an emphasis on connecting with nature and experiencing it with all the senses and without physical exertion.

To make the most of nature’s benefits, these walks are slow and mostly in silence. We observe the creatures present in a particular natural environment closely, deeply and make genuine contact with them – and with ourselves. Nature is where we have alway been at home.

GS tip: Take a chance. Take a review, newspaper, book and set yourself outside. Do not forget your favorite cup of tea, coffee. Let your friends know about the experience taken.

When walking, brains get tuned after feet. Also small efforts bring good ideas and solutions, creative mood and health.

Lichens indicates an unpolluted, almost natural environment.

(Author: Matej Špeh)

Praxis – adopt your own tree

Following the principle of forest therapy, dr. Li suggests straightforward exercises (children are also capable of using them, or even easier to manage them than adults) to engage all five senses. Let’s call them sensory exercises. They teach us to soak up the taste of the forest and relax:

  1. Listen to the birds’ singing and the wind in the treetops.
  2. Observe different shades of green and the sun’s rays breaking through the branches.
  3. Breathe in the scents of the forest and enjoy the natural aromatherapy of phytoncides*.
  4. Taste the fresh air and fill your lungs.
  5. Lie on the ground, under a tree, feed on the beauty of the natural patterns above you.
  6. Walk barefoot and follow the pleasant sensation of your feet.

There is no more directly effective health remedy than the forest walk.

The forest calms us and helps us to achieve mental calm, focus, clarity of thought and empathy.

* phytoncides are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or “essential oils” given off by trees. These chemicals have natural antimicrobial and insecticidal qualities that protect the tree from germs and parasites [4].


  • Natalija Špeh, PhD

    Started her research work at ERICo Institute on interdisciplinary environmental issues since 1997, she has upgraded her geographic experiences at the Faculty of Environment Protection in Velenje, Slovenia. After finishing a job as a dean (2014), she has devoted to environmental research studies (on rural areas', water ecological studies and marine pollution).


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