Just 2 Hours From City Stress To Forest Calm Ep 741

A person standing amongst green branches, with the sun shining. Does Forest Bathing Boost Your Health? Listen to Learn

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 3386 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 17 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 11.1 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

English Listening Practice: Does Walking in Nature Cure Stress?

#LearnEnglish 🌿 Imagine if hanging out in parks could replace popping pills! Today's English listening practice lesson re-visits forest bathing and the science that suggests we could all benefit re-connecting with nature. A gentle and interesting topic that will keep you listening while your brain goes to work on improving your English language skills.

Why Join Our Lesson?

  • Vocabulary: Learn terms like 'shinrin-yoku' and 'immersion.'
  • Grammar: Grasp the structure behind meaningful conversations about nature.
  • Pronunciation: Sound like a native when discussing your outdoor experiences.
  • Idioms & Phrases: Sprinkle your language with expressions that bring your English to life.

✔ Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/english-listening-practice-reduce-stress-anxiety-nature/

I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.
⭐ Henry David Thoreau

Step into nature's embrace and feel your stress melt away! In today's lesson you will learn about the timeless Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or 'forest bathing', and unlock practical ways of rejuvenating your mind and body.

This is a listen & learn English lesson, designed to keep you curious and engaged in spoken British English. As you listen to the benefits of spending time amidst trees, you'll not only enhance your English skills but also reconnect with the healing power of the natural world. A win win!

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.
⭐ John Muir

Start listening now, and transform the way you view the great outdoors!

More About This Lesson

Explore the benefits of 'forest bathing' and enhance your well-being while you improve your English language skills. An English lesson to discover how this calming practice can improve your mental clarity and physical health.

The earth has music for those who listen.
⭐ William Shakespeare

Learn how spending time in nature can enhance your English skills and overall wellness:

  1. Builds vocabulary - Learn words like "profound," "forest bathing," and "grounding."
  2. Enhances listening skills - Listen to varied sentence structures and intonations.
  3. Introduces idioms and phrases - Understand phrases like "through the roof."
  4. Cultural insights - Gain insights into cultural concepts like "shinrin-yoku."
  5. Contextual learning - Words and phrases are explained in a natural setting.
  6. Exposure to accents - Familiarize with different English accents and pronunciations.
  7. Real-life application - Encourages using English to discuss personal experiences.
  8. Interactive encouragement - Prompts you to share your own stories, boosting engagement.
Being in nature is not a luxury, but a necessity for emotional health.
⭐ Glennon Doyle

Forest bathing offers numerous benefits that are backed by scientific research:

  • Creativity and Problem Solving: Research shows nature boosts creativity by up to 50%.
  • Physical Health: Regular activities in green spaces can improve your physical health.
  • Mental Wellness: Interaction with soil bacteria in nature acts as a natural antidepressant.

Ready to embrace the outdoors and boost your health and English skills? Listen to our lesson now! Follow and subscribe to our podcast for more enriching English language lessons.


  1. What is 'forest bathing' and why is it beneficial? Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, involves spending time in nature, specifically among trees, to enhance mental and physical well-being. It's been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and lower blood pressure. This practice, originating from Japan in the 1980s, offers a natural way to combat the pressures of urban living by reconnecting with nature.
  2. How can listening to discussions about 'forest bathing' help me improve my English? Listening to discussions on topics like 'forest bathing' exposes you to new vocabulary and idiomatic expressions, helping you understand context and usage in real conversations. This immersion in the English language, through topics relevant to British culture and lifestyle, accelerates your learning and helps you speak more fluently.
  3. Are there similar practices to 'forest bathing' in places without forests? Yes, the core concept of 'forest bathing'—connecting with nature for health benefits—can be adapted to different environments. For example, walking in a desert, hiking in mountainous areas, or simply spending time in any serene natural setting can offer similar benefits. Each geographical location has unique landscapes that provide opportunities for nature-based relaxation and rejuvenation.
  4. How often should I engage in 'forest bathing' to experience its benefits? Research suggests that spending at least two hours per week in nature can lead to measurable health benefits, such as reduced stress levels and improved mental health. Regular, sustained contact with nature, whether through 'forest bathing' or other outdoor activities, is key to reaping these benefits.
  5. Can 'forest bathing' be part of a prescribed medical treatment? In some countries, doctors prescribe 'forest bathing' or time spent in green spaces as part of treatment plans for various conditions, including chronic stress, heart disease, and depression. This practice, supported by a growing body of research, highlights nature's role in improving overall health and is sometimes referred to as 'park prescriptions' or 'nature prescriptions'.

This English lesson feels like stepping into a lush forest; rejuvenating and filled with nature’s whispers, it’s a tranquil escape that nurtures your mind much like forest bathing soothes your soul.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Profound: Very deep or intense.
  • Shinrin-yoku: The Japanese term for "forest bathing," meaning spending time in nature to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Urban: Related to the city, usually busy and with many buildings.
  • Battery hen: A chicken that is kept inside all the time, in very small spaces.
  • Slum: A poor and densely populated area with bad living conditions.
  • Suburban: Related to areas on the edge of a town, often with some green spaces.
  • Prescribe: To officially tell someone to use a particular medicine or treatment.
  • Grounding: Connecting physically with the earth to gain psychological benefits.
  • Cortisol: A natural chemical in your body that is involved in stress and your immune system.
  • Psychological: Relating to the mind and mental processes.

Most Frequently Used Words:


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Transcript: Just 2 Hours From City Stress To Forest Calm

Escape the ‘urban jungle’ - the restorative power of green spaces

Hi there. Today let's talk about the profound impact of nature on our physical and mental health. Let's talk about the idea of 'forest bathing'. This is my version of it. The word 'profound', P-R-O-F-O-U-N-D, it means 'deep, significant'. You've enjoyed recent podcasts on running and cycling and I talked about 'forest bathing' previously in podcast 542. That was back in 2022. So that previous podcast on forest bathing has gone from YouTube, but it's still available on our website at adeptenglish.com. Let's look at the sense of calm that people feel after simply spending time in nature amongst trees and greenery. That's the essence of 'forest bathing' known as 'shinrin-yoku' in Japanese. Vocabulary, 'forest bathing', forest, F-O-R-E-S-T, that means 'an area of land with trees on it' or 'woodland'. And 'to bathe', B-A-T-H-E, that means 'to take a bath' or 'to immerse yourself' in something. So 'forest bathing', we're 'immersing' ourselves in forest.

We might also say something like 'bathed in sunlight'. Often we do 'forest bathing' naturally when we exercise outside of the gym. But today I'm talking about the specific benefits that come simply from spending time in nature. More and more of us live in towns and cities, in flats and apartments without outside space. So no place to grow plants. We can easily lose our connection with nature. Just think about the percentage of time you spend indoors versus the percentage of your time you spend outdoors. No wonder people like houseplants like this one.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

Is living in urban areas unhealthy and disconnecting us off from nature?

That was fun, but I do need to see you better!

So this idea of 'forest bathing' or 'shinrin-yoku' is the phrase in Japanese. Surprise, surprise comes from Japan. And it means 'spending time in nature to reduce stress and anxiety'. 'Shinrin-yoku' came about in the 1980s when there was concern for the mental and physical health of Tokyo office workers who moved from apartments in blocks to go work in high-rise office buildings and who were never going into green spaces. A similar very urban space that I visit for work is Canary Wharf in London. There are some trees and green spaces and there's a lot of water in the form of the river Thames and canals and docks. But the area is very urban. That's U-R-B-A-N. Meaning 'of the city', 'built up', meaning it's all buildings, pavements and roads. And there are no wide open green spaces.


An image of house plants around a window. Learn how nature fights stress. Our new lesson on Spotify and YouTube shares all

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In this type of urban environment, people can become disconnected from nature. Spending most of their time indoors, moving only on pavements or on the tube, between apartment block and office. Spending their working days on their computers, in air conditioning, beneath artificial light. You start to feel like a battery hen. That's one of those chickens that's farmed indoors with no access to a natural environment. No wonder our rates of depression and anxiety are through the roof, as we say in English. 'Through the roof' means 'very high'. And it's no wonder that houseplants have become so popular and important to many people.

We are animals too - we evolved in nature!

It's hardly surprising that being in nature has an effect on us. Throughout history, human beings have lived in natural spaces. A Psychology Today article says, "Given that people have been intricately linked to the earth, for most of human history, it might even be considered presumptuous to think that modern urban lifestyles, which effectively cut us off from nature, can be anything other than unhealthy." The link for that article is in the transcript. It's only in the last 200 years or so that we've migrated into towns and cities. Imagine the first migrants into towns and cities during the Industrial Revolution, leaving the countryside to go and live in slums. That's S-L-U-M-S. A 'slum' is a word for poor housing, where lots of people live very close together and conditions are not good. Horribly depressing to live in a 'slum', especially if you've lived in the countryside. Even if we live in a better off suburban environment - 'suburban' means still in a town but with some green spaces - we often find ourselves seeking out the countryside as an antidote to urban stress when we book holidays or weekends away.

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We don’t all have access to green spaces

We have a phrase in English, 'The great outdoors' - it means places like mountains and lakes, generally away from the city. So although the term 'shinrin- yoku' is specifically forest bathing, actually we could broaden this out to where there is peace and calm and quiet. An open area away from town. 'Forest bathing' is the opportunity that nature gives us in countries like Japan and the UK, where there are lots of forests and our land is green. Hence the phrase 'green spaces'. But if you come from an area of the world where the landscape is different, the Arctic or desert lands perhaps, then your version of 'shinrin-yoku' perhaps means going to camp in the wilderness or walking amongst snow covered mountains. Not necessarily with anything green in sight. I would be really interested to hear from people who live in countries where there isn't forest to bathe in, but who do enjoy their open spaces in a similar way, to relax, to recharge.

Should doctors prescribe time in parks and green spaces instead of medication for chronic stress?

And doctors in some countries now prescribe spending time in green places. 'To prescribe' P-R-E-S-C-R-I-B-E, that means 'to order as a treatment'. These are also called 'park prescriptions' or 'nature prescriptions' in the US. Basically, if you have chronic stress, your doctor may tell you to go and spend time in big parks, wide open spaces, rather than prescribing therapy or medication. Tablets, in other words. This wouldn't happen without a lot of supporting evidence of the benefits. Another article, again, link in the transcript, is one by Cassidy Randall in Glamour Magazine, who talks about her doctor in Montana, giving her a 'park prescription'. Even health insurance companies are now paying for this. They wouldn't do that unless there was good evidence it worked. And there's clearly a little industry developing around this. I noticed in the UK you can spend quite a lot of money with a forest bathing guide. Even the National Trust has a beginner's guide to forest bathing. I'm not sure we need a guide for this. I think once we arrive in a natural environment, we know what to do, how to enjoy it. We don't need to be taught or have a lesson in this.

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Try looking at photographs of nature and see whether they make you feel calmer. A photograph may help. I always have a picture of nature as my screensaver on my laptop. But physically getting into nature is the real thing, of course.

Have you been missing out on the stress-reducing benefits of spending time in nature?

Research quoted in Psychology Today has been conducted in East Asia and Europe and provides good evidence that forest bathing combats stress and the positive effects last over a week to a month. That's from one visit. Being in a forest can benefit your immune system, which helps you fight off diseases. And lots of studies say that being out in nature lowers blood pressure and heart rate and lowers your stress in ways that can be measured. You only need two hours a week. So doctors are prescribing spending time in nature as a treatment for a number of medical conditions. Heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, chronic stress and insomnia. And of course, depression and anxiety. All of them are helped by spending time in nature.

Grounding - do you feel a connection to the earth?

There are also benefits, of course, from spending time in sunlight, especially in places like the UK, where our vitamin D levels are very low. There's also a calming effect from seeing and hearing wild animals and hearing birdsong. And then there's this concept, this idea of 'grounding'. You may know the word 'ground', G-R-O-U-N-D. That's what we stand on, the ground. But the verb 'to ground' means any activity that brings a person or thing into contact with the earth. So the idea is of 'grounding' yourself for psychological benefit. It may sound surprising, but apparently there's scientific evidence that this is good for us. A study in 2015 by James Oschman found that 'grounding' can reduce inflammation, boost the immune response and improve sleep quality. Other studies show that 'grounding', especially with bare feet in contact with the earth, reduces cortisol. Links are all in the transcript. Some of this is surprising, isn't it?

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So it's quite easy to find scientific studies which prove the benefits, but difficult to find scientific studies which explain why spending time in nature is so good for us. Why does it reduce our cortisol? Why does it help us sleep better? I think there's little research evidence that tries to answer that question because it's largely psychological. And psychological things are hard to prove, hard to measure. But just because something's hard to prove doesn't mean it's not there. I think the common sense is that human beings, we evolved in nature, in natural environments. We are all essentially animals. We need nature too. It's as simple as that for me.

How do you immerse yourself in nature to find a sense of calm in your part of the world?

Can you tell us your version of 'forest bathing' in English? We'd love to hear from you and that would be great practice. And of course, I'm also interested to hear if you come from a part of the world where there aren't any forests, but you have your equivalent of 'forest bathing'. I look forward to hearing from you.


Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

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