From The Straits Times    |
forest bathing

forest bathing

Photo: 123rf

Being able to slot in time in nature is great because it makes us feel good. If you want to understand the influence of nature on our happiness, look no further than forest bathing, a Japanese practice where people focus on being present in nature, with the belief that it helps them discover new perspectives and insights.

“The concept of spending time in nature to boost our mental and emotional wellbeing is definitely on the rise,” says Yap Youmin of Xiu Nature Connections. She guides participants through practices in the Botanic Gardens and the Japanese Garden, and has noticed an increase in participation from individuals, as well as companies looking to conduct team-building exercises or executive retreats.

According to Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix, when you spend time in nature, your brain puts out more alpha waves, making you feel calm and relaxed. “The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans have an innate emotional affiliation with other organisms,” explains Youmin. “By going into nature, we are actually returning home and home is somewhere that’s very comfortable and happy.”

Living in the city, we’re constantly faced with so many choices – from emails to Instagram Stories. It is a lot of information to deal with. Being in nature helps us relax simply by giving us less choice – fewer things to focus on. “Simply spending time in nature gives a much needed time out for our overstressed brains,” she says.

We speak with 5 female entrepreneurs to find out how they consciously spend time in nature:

1. Take meetings outdoors

Photo: forestbathingsg/Instagram

Youmin’s work already brings her out to nature but beyond that, she tries to have “garden meetings” instead of making appointments at shopping malls. “Even if I’m in a cafe, I choose to sit outside or face the greenery,” she says. Thankfully, it’s easy to have nature in our line of vision because we have so many plants and trees dotted across Singapore.


2. Catch a breather and recharge in nature

Photo: stephldickson/ Instagram

“Having a Type A personality and running a company can be very intense and high pressured – largely due to my own expectations,” says Stephanie Dickson, founder of Green is the New Black, who describes herself as a perfectionist.

“One of the things that relaxes me the most and keeps me grounded is being with nature. I feel more present, I breathe better, I can calm my mind and body. Things that seemed like a big deal melt away, which helps to “fill my cup back up”.”

Her favourite nature escape? Bukit Timah Reservoir. That’s because it’s one of the few places where you’re completely surrounded by nature, don’t see any buildings, and can work up a sweat if you want to.


3. Prepare for major work tasks by stepping out of the office

Photo: esther.k/Instagram

“If I have a major presentation coming up, I give myself time away from the office to decompress in an environment that’s more relaxing,” says Esther Khong, co-founder of Date Out.

“For instance, I’d take time off to go to Sentosa – find a cafe that faces the beach and ocean, or the marines, and just plan whatever I need to plan in a relaxing space.”

4. Be mindful amidst greenery

Photo: openfarmcommunity/Instagram

“Nature resets and invigorates me from within. I am constantly amazed by the strength of the mountains, the wonders of the forest and the tranquility of the ocean. It teaches me how small I am in the midst of these wonders and I am lucky to have what I am doing,” says Cynthia Chua, founder of Spa Esprit Group.

With this degree of appreciation, it’s no wonder that the beauty, F&B, and lifestyle empire she helms incorporates pockets of greenery in its spaces. Think: Open Farm Community, which is shrouded in greenery and houses Tiong Bahru Bakery in its compound. Slated for a mid-year opening is Noka, which will take up the whole rooftop of Funan Mall, complete with an urban garden.


5. Set aside time to take walks

Photo: @metakrystal/Instagram

“I go deep into the gardens and parks and up and down the curves of our little Mount Faber often,” says Krystal Choo, founder of Tickle, who makes it a point to walk by the water every morning.

“The mornings are precious in their silence, with only leaves and birdsong. They give the mind space to breathe and expand before the insanity of the day.” Especially helpful when anxiety is just around the corner.