Lara Beth Jones, occupational therapist, is bringing nature and forest therapy, an experience rooted in the Japanese tradition known as “forest bathing,” to the Moore County area. In an effort to give back during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones is offering nature and forest therapy walks free of charge for healthcare providers and teachers at Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities on Sundays in February.

Nature and forest therapy is an evidence-based framework for accessing the therapeutic benefits of immersion in natural environments. Walks will start at 3 p.m. in the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities parking lot at 555 E Connecticut Avenue on February 7, 14, and 21, and last about 2 hours. Space is limited; to sign up please reach out to Lara Beth at [email protected] or call 910-612-4330.

Participants will be guided through a series of invitations to relax and connect with nature through their senses. The experience of nature and forest therapy, or “forest bathing” activates the parasympathetic nervous system, or the “rest-and-digest” state that is the body’s optimal state for healing and protects the body against stress.

A recent participant described the experience, saying, “The session was rewarding on many levels that I had never expected. The experience left me grounded, with a feeling of peace and comfort. Taking the time to be present in such a beautiful setting is so underrated in this fast-paced life. I am especially thankful for the benefits I received in the midst of a pandemic that has been causing me anxiety and stress.”

Feature photo: The oldest known longleaf pine tree, located in Weymouth Woods in Southern Pines, turned 472 years old in 2020~Sandhills Sentinel.



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