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National Trust Makes a Giant ‘Leap’ for Nature

Published on February 25th 2020
Sunny woodland
An extra day in the year means a whole additional 24 hours to spend as you wish, so why not join the National Trust in taking a leaf out of nature’s book and participate in outdoor wellness activities?
Europe’s largest conservation charity are holding a wellness weekend during this year’s leap day at their Plas Newydd site in Anglesey.
From Saturday 29th February to Sunday 1st March, the National Trust are encouraging you to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and join their local and experienced instructors for two days of qigong and forest bathing classes. One of each session will be available on each day.
Plas Newydd Anglesey
Image credit: National Trust.
Marketing and communications officer at Plas Newydd, who is helping to oversee the weekend, Clare Williams says: ‘We hope to encourage our visitors to reconnect with nature. We hope that everyone can take time out of their busy lives and enjoy the peacefulness of being surrounded by the stunning landscape here in North Wales. Taking part in a wellness session outdoors can have great benefits to our own wellbeing, and can help us reconnect with the natural world.
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‘[Using] the extra day this year to start a new good habit seems like the perfect time!’
Occurring once every four years, a leap year has 366 days rather than 365, including 29th of February as an intercalary day. In an ordinary year February has 28 days, but in a leap year it has 29 days.
A large waterfall over a river in a forest
‘Life is so hectic,’ adds Clare, ‘we all rush around in our daily lives and it can feel like an endless to-do list for many people. Taking time out to stop, breath and try something new such as the forest bathing sessions can really help us to be more mindful.’
Following a positive response from forest bathing sessions at Plas Newydd during May 2019, the site’s visitor experience team decided to hold more sessions over the course of 2020.
Forest bathing – or Shinrin-yoku which literally translates to ‘forest bath’ – is the Japanese practice of simply being in and connecting with nature through our five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world. It was developed in the 1980s and introduced by the Japanese government as a national health programme following positive research.
People walking in a forest
Scientific evidence proves that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels while also improve concentration and memory. Research also found that trees release chemicals called phytoncides, which have an anti-microbial effect on human bodies, boosting the immune system.
Further, in 2018, academics at the University of Derby found that enhancing a person’s connection with nature led to significant improvements in their wellbeing.
Forestry England claim: ‘Forest bathing exercises can be great fun for adults and children alike and useful in teaching concentration and mindfulness; whilst also providing an excellent opportunity to learn from each other.’
Follow their forest bathing guide or use their forest search tool to partake in the activity locally.
Forest bathing in Anglesey
Image credit: National Trust.
‘Members of staff tried out the sessions last year, during their lunch breaks, and found them to be very helpful for providing some peace and time to refresh before getting back to the office for the afternoon!’ explains Clare.
‘If you’ve thought of trying something new, these sessions are just long enough. They are a taster for our members and visitors to try something new – and the best part is that you don’t need to get your swimming costume out to try forest bathing! Taking time to literally stop and notice the things that surround us, the gentle breeze or the smell of the sea, or even the eucalyptus trees – it can help us to be more mindful.’
Teepee in Anglesey
Image credit: National Trust.
The sessions will run from 12.15pm until 3.15pm on both days. Following the weekend, regular forest bathing sessions will be held on the first Sunday of every month from April until October 2020. Qigong sessions will also be running on the first Saturday of each month from March to October. The National Trust offer holiday cottages in North Wales for guests travelling from further afield. Find out more and book your place.
You can also join National Trust rangers at West Wycombe Hill, at their Hughenden site in Buckinghamshire, on the leap day and lend a hand to create habitats for wildlife. The charity have also compiled a list of leap day activities and have vowed to reveal a list of promises to the natural world on the 29th February.

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