Mindfulness and shinrin-yoku: Potential for physiological and psychological interventions during uncertain times

Erica R. Timko Olson, Margaret M. Hansen, Amber Vermeesch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mindfulness and Shinrin-yoku (SY) translated as forest bathing, is potentially effective to alleviate mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The purpose of this article is to provide a translational and pragmatic approach to understanding mindfulness in the context of SY and psychological wellbeing through a rapid review of the literature. The background of mindfulness and SY practice are discussed and the emotional, neuroendocrine, and neurobiological responses are examined. Next, a rapid review of the literature examined six studies, published between 2010 and 2020 to determine what is known regarding the relationship between SY, mindfulness, and psychological wellbeing. The studies included 21–360 participants with a mean age of 20–55 years. The results demonstrated a significant positive correlation between nature, mindfulness, and measures of psychological wellbeing. During uncertain events, including COVID-19, weaving mindfulness with SY may be specifically important to at-risk groups, those experiencing depression, loneliness, and social isolation, and at-risk populations such as college students, veterans, and professionals with high levels of stress. The goal of this review is to provide a thorough background and support of this cost-effective modality to promote overall psychological wellbeing as a preventative measure to those at risk or experiencing psychological illnesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9340
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Anxiety
  • Forest bathing
  • Mental health
  • Mindfulness
  • Shinrin-yoku
  • Wellbeing


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