Excursions and Leisurely Pursuits: The Benefits of Forest Bathing

Nature is one of the many bountiful gifts on earth that humans can fully enjoy.

By now, we are all aware of how communing with nature is an experience that can be holistically beneficial with us. Apart from giving us an avenue to unplug and distance ourselves from the perpetually busy world for a while, it gives us a moment to appreciate earth in its barest form. Just imagine yourself in the midst of nature, being surrounded by a copse of trees with sunlight barely sifting through the leaves. The fresh scent of air that is untainted by city pollution, the constant twitter of birds, the gentle breeze against your skin—all of these gives us a sense of comfort that is nonexistent in the city. By being one with nature, we revitalize ourselves, reset our moods, rejuvenate our physical and mental state, invigorate and refresh our bodies. It leaves us with a feeling that makes us feel almost new.

Being in nature is being one with it and by allowing our senses to connect with nature insomuch that we can see, hear, taste, smell and touch nature, we bridge the gap between the natural world and ourselves. With most of the world’s population residing in metropolitan cities, people have effectively widened the fissure between humankind and nature insomuch that we rarely see a thicket of trees in progressive cities. Luckily, even a small aspect of nature can already have an impact on our health and well-being. As an example, a two-hour forest bath can already help you slow down and detach yourself from technology momentarily. Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese term for the act of simply immersing and losing yourself in nature.

Forest bathing affords you stress-relief. Apart from that, it relaxes you by bringing you to the present moment. It is also considered as a potent antidote to the pressures of the modern world that allows you to give your physical and mental wellbeing a brief hiatus. In this regard, you would do well to seek out spots that offer you an avenue for forest bathing. The province of Tanay, Rizal in the Philippines is known to have a lot of forest camps and nature parks with some of them featuring forest bathing as one of their attractions.

THREE NATURE AND PARKS IN TANAY

Calinawan Cave

Intrepid adventurers who love daring excursions such as hiking challenging forest trails, steep slopes and huge rock formations should never miss an opportunity to visit Calinawan Cave. Exploring this cave in Rizal requires stamina and vitality to walk through narrow passages and duck through 100-year-old stalagmites and stalactites. However, the cumbersome trek is not for naught as you will be treated to beautiful views of the cave. More importantly, Calinawan Cave is a place of historical significance as it was the place where Filipinos finally decided to stand up to their oppressors and revolt against the Spanish rule. In fact, it is where the cave got its name, “Calinawan” or “clarity”.

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WK Forest Reserve and Campgrounds Forest Trail

Communing with nature could not get any better than at WK Forest Reserve and Campgrounds Forest Trail. Located away from the touches of modern civilization, this camping site is ensconced high up the mountains to ensure solitude and relaxing serenity. At night, campers can get an unparalleled view of the stars and even the galaxy. The camping site offers a unique opportunity for visitors to commune and be one with nature by being totally unplugged (as the campsite has no cellular signal). Within a twenty to thirty-minute trek from the basecamp is a river which campers may take a relaxing dip in shall they wish. Today, WK Forest Reserve and Campgrounds opens a new trail that connects the forest camp area of the grounds to WK Forest Farm where guests are free to pick and eat the fruits from the trees.

Palo Alto Falls

While less popular than the other waterfalls in Rizal, Palo Alto Falls offers its visitors the kind of privacy and relaxation that may be otherwise lacking in more popular nature spots. To get to the place, you need to go up the 249-step trek to the 1000-feet Palo Alto Falls before you can see a thicket of forest trees. You will know that you are near when you see a small stream with cold water cascading from a height of 60 feet into a wide concrete pool that drains into the Laguna Lake and if you are bold enough to try, you might want to take a dip as well. This soothing place complemented with beautiful scenery is one of Rizal’s best kept secrets.

FOUR BENEFITS OF FOREST BATHING

Unlike the sweaty and adrenaline-filled hikes typically associated with nature, forest bathing is set at a much slower pace and is instead focused on immersing yourself in nature and everything that surrounds us. It is not about getting your heart rate up, covering a set distance or even any heart pumping activity. In lieu of all that, it focuses on you and fully experiencing nature by taking it in fully and having all of our senses experience it. So, what are the benefits associated with forest bathing?

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Stress reduction

This should go without saying but simply being outdoors can already reduce our stress. Similarly, immersing yourself in nature through forest bathing is shown to decrease stress so much more than just ordinary urban walks. Incidentally, forest bathing has also been shown to lower anxiety.

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Improves your mood

Communing with nature is shown to significantly improve your mood. In fact, studies at Derby University have conducted a research that shows evidence of nature being linked to happiness and well being. In this regard, it can be said that spending time in nature allows your body to release hormones that promote positive feelings.

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Boost in immune system

Studies have shown that trees and various plants emit phytoncides which we then breathe in whenever we spend time in the forest. In this regard, we can then enhance the activity of our Natural Killer cells that assists our bodies in fighting various kinds of diseases.

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Speeds up recovery from any illness

Nature is regarded as an excellent catalyst in one’s recovery from various diseases. In fact, some modern treatment centers have taken measures to include an aspect of nature in their treatments so as to speed up the recovery process. Even something as small as a simple view of nature from a hospital window can already reduce the time convalescence compared to an urban view.

In life’s perpetual hustle and bustle amidst an urban setting, forest bathing allows us a brief respite. It gives us a reason to pause and put our world in slow motion. It gives us an avenue to look at life from an entirely different perspective—away from modern distractions and the cumbersome responsibilities we face every day. Forest bathing is all this and more—an experience you certainly are not likely to forget.


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