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<p class=University of British Columbia professor Guangyu Wang says forest therapy can help people who suffer from mental health problems.

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A team from the University of British Columbia offers nature therapy to curious people, and says it helps improve the mental health and well-being of those who play the game.

Led by Associate Professor Guangyu Wang, the MINT (Multidisciplinary Institute of Natural Therapy) team at the Faculty of Forestry at Columbia University British (UBC) offers young people, the elderly, the sick or simply members of the community the opportunity to experience forest therapy and feel its benefits.

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The MINT team at the University of British Columbia offers forest therapy workshops to those interested.

Depression and mental health issues are big problems on campus and in urban settings, so we try to help people who don't “They don't have many opportunities to go out into nature and live this experience to improve their mental health,” explains the professor.

People are exhausted, so we take them to the forest. We help them experience it with their five senses and feel the connection with nature. We guide them through meditation, exercises and sharing with their peers.

A quote from Guangyu Wang, Associate Professor, Faculty of Forestry, UBC

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Forest therapy is an emerging practice in North America.

Nature and forest therapy is a practice inspired by the Japanese concept shinrin-Yoku, which translates to forest bathing or bathing in the forest atmosphere.

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Professor Wang explains that when an individual experiences stress, hormones like cortisol are released in their body.

The researcher specifies that studies have shown that therapeutic walks in the forest can significantly reduce cortisol levels, reduce tension, depression and increase feelings of well-being and vigor.

The MINT team collaborates, among others, with health organizations in British Columbia, such as the provincial Cancer Agency. We offer forest therapy to cancer patients to help their mental health and strengthen their immune system, says Guangyu Wang.

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Researchers at the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Forestry are trying to replicate the forest experience indoors to better understand its beneficial effects.

Forest therapy is relatively new, says Professor Wang. Much of forest therapy focuses on the cultural and spiritual aspect, but, as a scientist, I think we need to find evidence [ to this practice].

In addition to studying the effects of guided forest therapy on a wide range of participants, the team replicated an environment natural inside to test the impact of various factors and their combinations.

We capture the air from the forest and run tests to see what types of chemicals are released by these trees. Then we create essential oils to mimic them and test them on participants to observe their different effects on heart rate, blood pressure and brain wave activity.

We also create forest landscapes and sounds in virtual reality and compare their effects with real forests.

Our ultimate goal is to understand the relationship between humans and the forest and introduce forest elements into indoor environments.

A quote from Guangyu Wang , Associate Professor, Faculty of Forestry, UBC

The professor recommends everyone who wants to experience the benefits of forest therapy to go there each week for a period of two hours.

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