Forest bathing is not what you think it is.
We know, we thought so, too…Forest bathing sounds like it requires a bathrobe, a bar of soap and a tub of warm water placed perfectly under the stars. Although for some of us, that version of forest bathing does offer a way to get back in touch with our (very) primitive selves, the fact remains that it is not what the fuss is all about. What is the fuss about? The astonishing relationship between you and the forest. Forest bathing is an amazing, accessible, and necessary tool that is key to your physical and mental health.
The Nose Knows.
The discovery began with little hints from other scientific studies like aromatherapy. Aroma can influence the way a person feels. This made some people ask whether what we see also has an effect on our mood and our body. In 2004 three scientists, Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Yuko Tsunetsugu the aptly named, Bum-Jin Park, began to analyze the relationship between the natural world and a human’s senses and health. But they did not stop with scent. They tested what happens to the body when we see a photo of a flower and a park. When it was confirmed the body reacted. They took things a step further and tested the effects of on the body when a person smells, sees, hears and touches a forest.
You don’t have to travel far to forest bathe as Singapore has the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, and in the Singapore Botanic Gardens Rainforest right on our island for you to shower in nature.
See A Forest, Avoid A Pharmacy
What the scientists discovered is that breathing a green space, seeing a green space, touching a green space or…bathing in green space has a direct effect on human health. So, what is forest bathing? It literally is the act of taking your body for a walk through a lush, forest. Being in a forest lowers stress hormones and being in a forest lowers blood pressure after just 20 minutes. What does all this mean? The more often a person makes time for themselves to be outdoors and in a green space away from the city, the more likely they are to be happier and healthier.
A great place to get on top of the forest canopy in Singapore would be the MacRitchie Treetops trail. You’ll get to a 250 m long freestanding suspension bridge between the two highest points in the Nature Reserve and bask in the ambience of the flora and fauna. Total distance is approximately 6km round trip.
Being In A Forest Makes You Smarter
The benefits from forest bathing do not stop there. Being around green space has a direct link to concentration. The more you bathe in green, the more your brain will benefit. Studies done throughout the 1990’s revealed the natural environment benefits those suffering from diabetes. Together, this information should convince you, if you are young and healthy, the best way to maintain it is by running to a nearby forest for a bath, right now. Head over to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, its now easily accessible via the Circle Line and its got all the amenities and forest diversity you need in one place.
Did you know that species such as the Johore Fig (ficus kerkhovenii) are actually formed as a result of the strangulation of the host tree by the Fig species (Hemiepiphyte)? After the seeds of the fig flowers are deposited in the canopy of the host tree by animals, the aerial roots begin to extend progressively downward, before thickening and anchoring itself to the forest floor. As more strangling roots are produced, it begins to engulf the host till it dies, leaving the Strangling Fig to take its place. #didyouknow #Wednesday #nparks #nparksbuzz #sbg #singaporebotanicgardens #figtree #rainforest #sgbiodiversity #biodiversity #cityinagarden #instasg #singapore #igsg #sginstagram #gf_singapore #sgig #instagramsg #exploresingapore
Forest Bathing Is One Thought Away
Of course, for some getting out of the city is a stressful thought in itself. Busy work schedules, families and other obligations make accessing a forest an imposition but it does not have to be. Consider designing your holiday around going to a retreat surrounded by green space. For example, check out these Bali retreats. As well, check out our article where to escape to environmentally integrated activities around Singapore.
Additional Photos by Jeanette Lamb @graffitigoose