Bathing Outside Your Condo? It Is Possible With Forest Bathing
For cities like New York that has Central Park, taking a break and communing with nature is a breeze. Sadly, the same can’t be said in the metro. Most metropolis are identified with their densely populated urban environment where infrastructures occupy most of the area, including airspace. In Metro Manila for instance, there are 12.8 million people as of 2015 Census. These people are left with only 142.82 hectares of public parks (Rizal Park, Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center, La Mesa Ecopark, Ayala Triangle, and Quezon Memorial Circle). This area available for nature parks is only 22% of the total specified allocation for parks according to the existing Comprehensive Land Use Plan of the Philippines, according to urban planner Julia Nebrija.
In Jakarta—which came in second to Manila in the ASEAN region in terms of its dense population in 2015 with 10.3 million people—only 9.98% of the total urban area is allocated to green spaces according to a report published earlier in 2018. This number is way below the requirement of the Spatial Planning Law in Indonesia.
City dwellers, especially those who live in condominiums just resort to stay indoors and enjoy the comfort and modern conveniences of their homes. While most modern city dwellers people find comfort and relaxation inside their condo units, it is a must to learn how to be one with the outdoors to achieve overall wellness. The Japanese call this practice shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”—and it’s scientifically proven to be effective that doctors in Shetland, Scotland have recently been authorized to give “nature prescriptions.”
According to World Economic Forum, forest bathing—taking in the forest atmosphere through our senses—is “proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.” All these mental and physical health benefits are due to phytoncide, the various essential oils found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables that keep germs and insects off. According to studies, inhaling phytoncide helps improve the immune system.
In Shetland, Scotland, there’s even a leaflet with nature prescriptions arranged according to the months of the year to cater to the different seasons. Although some prescriptions might seem silly to some, the program supplements conventional medicine to help reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and increase happiness for those with diabetes, a mental illness, stress, heart disease, and more.
You don’t have to stay for days or weeks out of the confines of your condo. Even in small doses of nature, just feeling and being reconnected to nature, helps calm the nerves and alleviate stress. When you’ve been hustling at work the whole week, slow down and do a little detox from technology and the Internet. Take with you your essentials, and take a walk to the nearest park or maybe back to your parents’ garden. If you have more time to spare, go hiking to a place where you think you’ll reconnect with nature best. Then, come home to your unit with a refreshed body and mind.