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Colour Me Happy

Mindfulness in the forest

Allow yourself the time and space that you need to reflect by taking a therapeutic trip to the forest. Learn about forest bathing, try our adult colouring sheets, read a poem, and find your own state of presence this autumn.  

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing awareness on the here-and-now, allowing yourself time to enjoy and experience the present. 

This time of year is about brightly coloured leaves, harvest festivals and bonfires. Like any season, the joys can pass us by all too quickly if we don’t pay attention.

Forest bathing

In 1982 the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries coined the term 'Shinrin-yoku', literally meaning “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. Different to exercising in the forest the experience refers to soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a the forest or woodland to improve your physiological and psychological health.

Scientific studies data have found associations with lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as concentrations of salivary cortisol — a stress hormone. These results have been achieved through therapeutic experiences while in the forest.

While the exact mechanisms remain mostly unknown, some researchers point towards health benefits from breathing in substances called phytoncides, given off by plants that results in relaxation. However, the so-called “the aroma of the forest" only exist in small concentrations out in the forest. Another possible explanation for forest bathing’s soothing effects involves our sense of awe when viewing natural beauty.

The spectacular beauty of autumn is a perfect opportunity to slow down and appreciate things that can only be seen or heard when moving slowly. So get outside for a dose of forest bathing!

Read some inspiring autumn poems

Help yourself escape with some beautifully crafted poetry. Allow yourself to be drawn in by this inspiring wordplay as you practice mindfulness in the forest.

"Autumn leaves, in the trees
Falling to the ground
Colors of many, in the breeze
Of red and orange and brown.
Rainbow parks in the dark
Moonlight shimmers down
On the leaves, from the trees
Falling to the ground."
 - Randy L, McClave

"The leaves fall patiently
Nothing remembers or grieves
The river takes to the sea
The yellow drift of leaves."
 - Sara Teasdale

"The one red leaf,
The last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging to light,
And hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky"
 - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Autumn thumbnailsDownload our adult colouring sheet

Try our adult colouring sheet, designed to help you enjoy your surroundings and find peace in a natural environment this season. Give it a go, and let us know how you get on.

Japanese maples (acer palmatum) leaves and seeds. Westonbirt Arboretum GloucestershireWestonbirt Arboretum GloucestershireFind your local autumn activity trail and woven woodland

Find your local autumn activity trail to experience the spectacular sights of autumn, and make your mark on your local woven woodland with natural materials you find on the forest floor.

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.