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Can I do Forest Therapy indoors?

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

Many people have had limitations about going outdoors due to weather and social distancing constraints. The good news is - yes, you absolutely can!

Every Saturday, I volunteer to take medical professionals on remotely-guided Forest Therapy walks as part of a generous BC Parks Foundation PaRx initiative. This is a way of saying thank you to our medical community and hopefully reducing their stress in some way.

It's rare that they're able to be in a forest for our 90 minutes together. Many participate from their gardens, in their homes and even in a quiet room in the hospital during a moment of respite.

I'm frequently asked if "it will work" if they aren't outside, immersed in the forest. With a little bit of creativity, it can totally work.

By gathering a few things from nature and sitting by a window, individuals have experienced tangible benefits.

In fact, some participants have experienced what they needed from rooms without windows or items they've gathered - their imagination and recollection of times in nature has been a rich source of connection and inspiration while being guided.

Moments that have stood-out for me while remotely-guiding people while they're indoors include:

  • A doctor who participated from an art gallery on campus, exploring the sculptures with their senses while candles glowed around them and snow gently fell outside.

  • A nurse who reconnected to all of their favourites places in the world through a bowl of stones that they had collected over decades of travel.

  • A senior care home nurse who collected items from her garden before going to work, and 'sat with her garden' at her desk to connect to its beauty and familiarity.

  • A doctor who participated with their eyes closed for the full 90 minutes, imagining their favourite walking trail and remembering every detail of it with all of their senses.

Even if you're limited by time, weather or accessibility, I encourage you to try a remotely-guided Forest Therapy walk. You may be pleasantly surprised!

If you know of a BC medical professional who could benefit from a remotely-guided Forest Therapy walk, please have them register here.

Learn more about the PaRx program, Canada's first national, evidence-based nature prescription program, here.

PS - this is my collection on my desk of rocks, handmade cedar pebbles, shells and a rose hip


Valerie McIntyre-Baird

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