This article is sponsored by City Escapes. Book your next getaway at one of their two convenient locations and reap all the benefits that nature has to offer!
For visitors and residents of New York City, it is imperative that daily toxins are addressed. Exhaust filled air, artificial light, and constant excessive noise can be a nightmare on your health. Fortunately, a quick trip in nature can counteract many of the negative effects of city-living. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that a three day trip into the woods can have effects on the cellular level that last upwards of thirty days.
Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese term for forest bathing. In Japan, it is an essential part of preventative health care and healing. A rather simple concept, walking in a calm and relaxed manner in nature, has powerful benefits that have been backed up by scientific literature. According to shinrin-yoku.org, the scientifically-proven benefits of shinrin-yoku include:
- Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
- Increased energy level.
- Improved sleep.
The effects of forest bathing can be felt through both short-term and long-term practice. A hour-long hike in a local park can leave you feeling a sense of calm, focus, and serenity. For city-dwellers who are more likely to encounter exhaust from cars and trucks than natural air from trees, it is important to implement some form of forest bathing. This can be as simple as placing quality plants around your apartment or heading over to Central Park for meditation, yoga, or a long stroll.
In order to achieve even greater effects from forest bathing, it is suggested that you pack a bag and head into the woods for a mini-retreat. An excerpt from The Metabolic Approach to Cancer provides us with an example of how profound the effects of a three-night, two-day trip can be:
“…samples of blood and urine were obtained on Days 2 and 3 as well as twice during the month after the trips. It was discovered that forest bathing unintentionally promotes the inhalation of antimicrobial volatile substances called phytoncides (wood essential oils) derived from trees. Two such substances are a-pinene and limonene. Increased NK activity was found to last at least thirty days after the trip, suggesting that a forest bathing trip once a month would enable individuals to maintain a higher level of NK activity.”
Beyond the fact that you are removing yourself from toxic pollution, taking a trip into nature provides your body with essential oils and other substances that reboot your immune system. By the time you head back into the city, your body has a reinforced army that can take on the onslaught of toxins that bombard your body systems regularly.
If you want to maximize the effects of your trip into nature, leave your technology at home. Laptops, tablets, cellphones, and anything else electronic should at the very least be locked in the car. By doing this you can realize how truly addicted to your electronic devices you are. You may find yourself reaching into your pocket to check your phone or get the urge to pullout your laptop to look something up. These are symptoms of technology dependency and practices that prevent you from using deep level thinking.
As we now know, our brain chemistry can be altered just as our muscles can be strengthened or weakened. When we use technology as a crutch our neurological performance declines. We are in no way, shape, or form trying to dismiss the benefits and advancements of technology. Instead, we are trying to point out that technology should be used in addition to deep thinking. In fact, allowing your mind to wander and observe can lead to creative ideas, solutions to problems, and help you appreciate what you have.
Going tech-free on your trip into nature will also allow you to develop better technology habits upon your return to the city. You will realize that it is completely fine if you don’t share to your story immediately or post about your experience right away. It can be quite the humbling experience to know that when you are not there, life goes on. We place so much emphasis on our lives and stress out about so many different factors on a daily basis.
We sometimes fail to remember that we are just a tiny speck on the vast timeline of history, and that life will go on long after we are here. This truth helps us sort through the noise in order to recognize what is truly important to us. This will vary from person to person, but usually includes family, friends, and having a meaningful impact on the world. You won’t get this realization or find appreciation for others by scrolling through a social media feed.
There is a reason why many spiritual retreats take place in nature and why yoga studios and other mind/body-focused practiced are done in the presence of pictures of nature. There are benefits, both seen and unseen, that nature provides us. Take the time to break free from your usual routine and put your health at the forefront. Head into nature and reap all the wonderful advantages that it has to offer.
For those in the New York City area, City Escapes offers the perfect opportunity for shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. Located just 2.5 hours from New York City in Catskills, Big Timber Lodge offers all the amenities of being in nature that you want and need. Whether you want to check out the woods, stroll down to the creek, or sit around a campfire with loved ones, Big Timber will get you on the path to rejuvenation and restoration. Complete with the ability to sleep 20 plus, Big Timber has the space for all your friends and family!
If you are looking to compliment your trip with some seasonal action, Big Timber is conveniently located near Hunter Mountain for all the skiing and snowboarding you can handle. If the slopes aren’t for you, head into the woods for a hike of your liking. Spend the day trekking the mountains or simply go for a stroll and be inspired. Your time at home will be spent taking in breathtaking views whether you are drinking a cup of coffee on the porch, hanging in the hot tub, or relaxing beneath the beautiful architecture of the one of a kind lodge.
City Escapes now offers a summer bungalow escape in the infamous Asbury Park, New Jersey. If you prefer the ocean to the woods, look no further than their modern-shore retreat. A short bike ride to the beach will have you soaking up the rays for hours. Back at the bungalow you will be spoiled with a 60-foot bocce court, tanning area, propane fire pit, and a premium Weber Grill!
For more information on booking your corporate retreat, wellness weekend, or group weekend, check out @mycityescapes on Instagram now!
What do you do to take advantage of all nature has to offer? We want to know! Leave a comment below!