Q: What’s the deal with “forest bathing?” Isn’t this just a walk in the woods?

—Joshua H., Myrtle Beach, S.C.

A: Well, yes, but it’s more than that. There’s a specific focus on being with the trees. A guided nature walk is generally chosen for informational content, and a hike typically is focused on a destination such as a mountaintop or scenic overlook. By contrast, the purpose of forest bathing is simply to “be” in the presence of the trees without any goal other than to allow the natural calming and healing potential of the forest to seep into our skin, eyes, and lungs.

Often people walking through cities, or even on trails, wear earbuds, or engage in other distractions. These aren’t bad activities, but when we really relax our brain chatter into the vast, non-hectic vibe of a forest, it can help us feel calmer and less stressed.