A Retreat To Nature: The Benefits Of Forest Bathing
When forest bathing, a person focuses on incorporating all five senses - smell, sight, hearing, taste and touch – and to be present at the moment while soaking in the atmosphere of the forest. With so many parks and gardens in Singapore, forest bathing is an accessible way for seniors and caregivers to enjoy the benefits of forest therapy. The term forest bathing itself is a direct translation of "Shinrin-yoku" in Japanese, and it has been a widespread mindfulness practice since the 1980s!
Top Five Benefits of Forest Bathing
Studies have shown various benefits to physical and mental health when forest bathing. The routine also helps people relax and escape from the stresses of city life, even if it's just for a few hours! Here are just some of the many benefits of forest bathing.
- Reduces Stress - Leisure forest walks can help decrease the stress hormone, which can improve our mood and lower anxiety levels.
- Improves Mood - Spending time in nature releases endorphins, that help boost our happiness and mental wellbeing.
- Boosts Immune System - Trees and plants emit 'phytoncides', a substance that contributes to the “aroma” of the forest. When inhaled, it helps decrease stress hormones and boost our immune system to ward off illnesses.
- Reduces High Blood Pressure - Immersing ourselves in nature can lower blood pressure as it reduces the strain on our heart and blood vessels, which cuts the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
- Improves Cognitive Function - Natural green spaces help increase concentration and lowers the risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia.
Step-by-step Guide On Forest Bathing In Singapore
Forest bathing is an "art" in mindfulness, and it does not mean bathing in its literal sense! Here are the steps you and your loved one can take to get your forest therapy journey started:
- Switch off all electronic devices like your phones and tablets.
- Be fully present in the experience.
- Stop and smell the roses by the roadside. Pause to look more closely at a plant, flower, tree, or even an insect or animal from time to time.
- Find a nice spot to settle down and listen to the sounds in the garden.
- When forest bathing in groups, agree to resist talking until the end of the walk when everyone can gather to share their experiences.
- Ensure ample hydration, prepare mosquito repellent and sunscreen when you forest bathe.
Therapy Gardens In Full Bloom
These therapy gardens feature pathways that are wheelchair-friendly and provide activity zones for therapeutic planting programmes. Features aside, seniors can also participate in horticulture therapy programmes, which refer to the practice of using plants and gardening to improve mental and physical health, to ease the onset of dementia for seniors.
The rollout of therapy gardens in nursing homes also provides a calming respite for seniors and residents living with dementia.
List Of Therapeutic Gardens For Forest Bathing
Ready to venture out into the wild with your loved ones? Here is a list of senior-friendly and dementia-friendly parks you can visit:
- Tiong Bahru Park
- Choa Chu Kang Park
- Telok Blangah Hill Park
- Punggol Waterway Park
- Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
Therapy gardens such as the parks listed above are purposefully designed to facilitate interaction with the healing elements of nature. Head over to NParks to learn more about these therapeutic gardens before you head out for a refreshing (forest) bath!