THE average adult will spend 34 years of their life looking at screens. This, coupled with more time spent indoors during lockdown, means more and more people have started to rediscover an appreciation for one of the simple joys of life: nature.

But for some, this is not just a walk in the park ... Scotland has seen an upsurge in forest bathing.

Originating in Japan in the 1980s, shinrin-yoku was born after the Japanese government conducted studies into the health benefits from time spent in nature, and from their findings officially provided backing for the practice as a form of healing and preventative healthcare.

Today around the world, people are just starting to catch on. But what exactly is forest bathing?

READ MORE: Headlines on 'soaring' mental illness among police were irresponsible

It’s almost deceptively simple. Forest bathing involves immersing yourself in nature and mindfully connecting with your surroundings, without distraction. That’s it.

In other words, with phones and other distractions far away, forest bathing is all about immersing yourself in the nature around you – mindfully taking pause and “bathing” in the surroundings. It seems simple, but proponents of the practice speak of its transformative effects.

Maarya Sharif is one such advocate. A lecturer in statistics at Edinburgh University, it was on a short break from her job when she came across a course offering training in forest bathing instruction, run by Scottish Forestry.

“I’d previously done volunteering and was fairly comfortable managing groups in an indoor space,” she explained. “But I was keen to get people outside.”

Completing the training during lockdown, she found learning about forest bathing to have a positive effect on her mental health, giving her a “huge drive” to do something which she said “helped me, but also had potential to help others”.

The National: Scots are seeking closer ties with nature after more than a year of Covid lockdownsScots are seeking closer ties with nature after more than a year of Covid lockdowns

“There’s this concept some scientists have found called the ceiling height. There’s a correlation essentially between this and creativity levels. So, if you’re in a typical office space with low ceilings, your thinking may feel more restricted. And in high ceilinged rooms, you’re more free in your thinking.

READ MORE: 'Real change needed' as treatment delays cause 'mental health crisis' in Scotland

“In some sense you’ve got no ceiling in the woods. You might see an amazing sky; you might see pockets of sunlight seeping through the trees and the leaves. It’s sort of limitless, I guess, and the feeling of creativity for me seeps into my everyday life.”

Most recently, Sharif ran sessions as part of Glasgow’s Centre of Contemporary Arts programme featuring events aimed at taking participants off site and outdoors. During these, she was especially keen to highlight to participants the simplicity and accessibility of the practice.

She said: “Prior to starting, I felt like this is something you need to do in a grand location, like the Highlands of Scotland or a rural area of Japan.

“But really, you can do it anywhere there’s nature. It could be as simple as being in your garden or even a local park for five minutes a day.”