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The Benefits of Forest Bathing

The Benefits of Forest Bathing

"Go outside and meet the world with all of your senses...

to be without nature is to be deprived of its' life-giving and life affirming properties"

I scribbled this quote down on one of the pages of my sketch book whilst staying at North Lodge at Glen Dye in the Scottish Highlands earlier this year. I was reading an article by Ruth Allen entitled, "The Science of Stepping Outside" and this particular quote really resonated with me. I love being outdoors, surrounded by the wilds of nature and I feel that this quote really captures the essence of that feeling - of being completely embraced and engulfed by a landscape, be it a vast stretch of rugged coastline, a wide expanse of open moorland or a dense and towering forest. 

I've been meaning to write a blog post on the benefits of Forest Bathing for some time now, but you know, life is busy and there's never enough time to do all the stuff on the list. Which makes this post even more pertinent, as I want to talk about Forest Bathing as an antidote to the pressures and stresses of modern life.

The concept of Forest Bathing originated in Japan, where it is known as Shinrin-Yoku. It is the therapeutic practice of immersing oneself in nature amongst the trees, taking in the forest atmosphere and spending time focusing on sensory engagement to connect with nature.

Whilst we all recognise that being amongst nature in this way can help you feel more relaxed, it has also been found that Shinrin Yoku carries many proven health benefits too. Being calm and quiet amongst the trees can actually help reduce blood pressure and stress levels, boosting health and well being in a natural way. It gives you the opportunity to awaken your senses to the sights, sounds and scents around you, naturally slowing you down and bringing you into the moment. 

Glen Dye Forest

When surrounded only by the natural world, and without the distraction of screens, we can begin to move outside the tangle of our own mind. We can free ourselves up to be more present in the moment. According to Allen, when dwarfed by the canopy of trees, deep in the forest, we also begin to stimulate feelings of awe, becoming more attuned to the world around us, allowing us to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. On a biological level, those feelings of awe have also been shown to reduce internal inflammation. Clever Mother Nature, eh? Always nurturing.

It has also been proven that being outside can lower the production of the stress hormone, cortisol, helping to restore a sense of calm and order to our busy minds. . In addition, the act of walking calmly in this way helps to clear the mind and, in turn, aids problem solving. With an uncluttered mind, we are able to gain perspective, think more clearly and feel less overwhelmed. It's no coincidence, therefore, that we use the expression "I'm going for a walk to clear my head".

The tools we need to help restore clarity and calm to our minds and induce a sense of wellbeing are freely available within the natural world. But what about those times when we are unable to get outside, perhaps when we are working or spending time at home? How can we tap into the principles of Shinrin Yoku to help us clear our busy minds and induce a sense of calm?

Perhaps our favourite way of inviting a sense of calm and relaxation is to light a candle and infuse the home with a soothing natural fragrance. The clever guys at Earl of East have perfectly captured the essence of the forest in their Shinrin Yoku Soy Wax Candle  - with an earthy blend of cedar wood, oakmoss and black pepper. Its wonderful earthy-mossy aroma eludes to the wet forest floor, instantly transporting you back to nature and soothing the senses.

Earl of East Shinrin Yoku Candle

 It has also been scientifically proven, that being around blue and green spaces can improve relaxation and aid recuperation. As well as these being colours we tend to associate with outdoor spaces, we can also incorporate these colours into our interior spaces too, particularly in rooms where we want to feel relaxed such as the bedroom or the bathroom. If you work from home, maybe also consider a soothing shade of blue or green for your work space to help keep stress levels down.

Lighting incense whilst working is another trick we often use here to help clear a cluttered mind and facilitate focus. Our Earl of East incense cones in grounding Sandalwood or uplifting Rose scents, are particularly good for this. I find the soothing fragrance really helps slow down my racing mind and helps me to concentrate on the task in hand.

Of course, introducing plants to your home is also a great way of bringing the outside in and can also help purify the air in your home. In addition, houseplants have been shown to help induce feelings of calm, increase concentration and productivity and also relieve stress and anxiety.

Last but not least, you can always declare your love for the great outdoors sartorially. Our friends over at sustainable clothing brand, Stamp, have designed a great tee within their latest collection, to remind us that -

'Life's Better Outside'

Stamp Life's Better Outside T-Shirt

Their white 100% Organic Cotton T-Shirt, features a dark charcoal print created with eco-friendly water based inks. This T-Shirt is an oversized fit with dropped shoulder sleeves - perfect for outdoor adventures or for lounging around in, whilst dreaming of days exploring the forest. I just had to have one as the image reminds me so much of our amazing walks through the wilds of Glen Dye. You can shop the T-Shirt here.here.

 

 

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Fate + Circumstance: A little bit about us and how we got here...

Fate + Circumstance: A little bit about us and how we got here...
We thought it was about time we gave you a bit of background into G.A.S Life Store, who we are and how we became interested in natural and cruelty free products. We are Karen & Michael and set up G.A.S Life Store in 2021 after we both lost our income as a result of the pandemic. We live in the pretty village of Bournville in Birmingham with our 7 year old son and our black lab puppy. We work very much as a team although we each bring a different set of skills to the table.

 

 

I’m Karen and I usually take care of the website, social media and product and lifestyle artistic styling and photography.

 

 

Michael is the one with the head for figures and planning and spent many, many hours online researching beautifully made sustainable products and small batch makers in the early days of setting up G.A.S Life Store and was instrumental in shaping our opening line up of independent brands.

Michael has a wealth of experience in project management within the events industry, kitting out gigs, festivals, tv and corporate events with the relevant audio visual kit required to bring these large scale happenings to life. Needless to say, this all came to a crashing halt with the onset of the pandemic in 2020 when the world came to a standstill and we were forced into a global lockdown.

In contrast, my creative background is in Interior Styling. After studying Fine Art at university, I fell in to freelance work as a stylist and continued to enjoy the creative opportunities and flexibility this presented for the next twenty or so years. Most of my styling work was in the new homes sector, however, my passion has always been for older, more historical homes and I am always intrigued by the wealth of stories that lie within a well-loved interior full of character and how these reveal traces of its former life. 

 

 

Over the years we have spent many holidays in France browsing the brocantes and picking up curios and handmade French soaps. (You've probably noticed some of the vintage pieces from collection popping up in some of our instagram shots. Being a bit of a magpie, there's quite a lot to choose from!)

We often talked of how we might turn our passion for modern rustic and vintage décor - a style the French do so well - into a way of life. When the need to do something different became more pressing as the pandemic endured and our regular work was thin on the ground, the idea for a lifestyle store began to burn away inside us. We talked of fusing our interests and creating a space where you could shop natural, thoughtfully made and cruelty free lifestyle products alongside a curated edit of vintage and handmade pieces for the home, including my hand made ceramics.

Being animal lovers, we have always insisted on buying cruelty free products, whether it was skincare or cleaning products, but we have always found this a very confusing market. It’s often not immediately clear if a product is cruelty free, particularly with the larger, mainstream players. Sometimes a brand widely believed to be cruelty free might actually be owned by a much bigger parent company, that cannot lay claim to the same ethical standards.  I’ve wasted a LOT of time in shops, googling to see if a a product or brand is cruelty free before feeling confident enough to pop it in my basket.

 

 

As far our preference for natural products is concerned, this really arose as a result of my sister Helena’s diagnosis with Breast Cancer at the age of 36, just three weeks before her wedding day. Following her diagnosis, she threw herself into researching what she could do to improve her well being and one of the changes she made was to adopt a more natural lifestyle, including reassessing what she was using on her body and inside her home. She immediately made the switch to completely natural products containing no parabens, toxins or other potentially harmful ingredients.

Naturally, we followed suit. We started to consider the ingredients in the products we were using as well as the way in which they had been made. This would often involve a lot of hunting around online to find natural, cruelty free alternatives to the products which were essential to our everyday self-care and housekeeping routines. Invariably this also involved purchasing from many different places and therefore often incurred multiple postage costs. We thought it would be good to change this and create a shopping space for sustainable, considered lifestyles, bringing together a range of products, carefully made by small, independent brands.

So, I guess you could say our little Green and Sustainable Life Store came into being as a kind of natural destination, a place at which we arrived through a combination of fate and circumstance. 

We do not claim to be experts in the field by any means - we continue to learn from the wonderful work of our independent brands and small batch makers. We believe that doing something is better than doing nothing. We can’t always do everything but we can endeavour to make small improvements along the way.

We champion sustainability alongside beautiful and thoughtful design and we ALWAYS insist our products are cruelty free.

 

 

Sadly, my sister Helena lost her battle with cancer at the age of 44, after defeating it the first time around and then, devastatingly, having to face it again seven years later. She was brave and relentless to the very end in her fight to survive, and, following her first diagnosis, equally resolute in her pursuit of a more authentic, balanced way of life, focusing on enjoying life’s simple pleasures above all else.

The tragedy of losing her at such a young age has taught us to appreciate every moment, to be more mindful and be grateful for the little things. Life is busy and the idea of a slower way of life seems out of reach for most of us, but we can all make small changes here and there which can have a positive impact - on our sense of well being, our day to day lives or indeed, on the planet.

We hope that in this little space we have created we can offer you simple ways to evaluate and elevate your everyday rituals - whether that’s with a beautiful handmade soap, a wonderfully scented candle or a naturally formulated laundry detergent.

Our collections will grow and change as we move forward, and as we discover new artisans and makers. We have lots of plans for G.A.S Life Store, and hopefully this is just the beginning. We hope you will join us on our journey.

 

Karen & Michael x

Well done if you made it all the way through to the end. I do go on a bit ;-)

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