Solution to loneliness in Iceland: hug a tree!

15 May 2021Updated: 4 hours ago | 52 people are reading

Solution to loneliness in Iceland: hug a tree!

© Lonely Planet Solution to loneliness in Iceland: hug a tree!

Iceland's forest management encourages citizens to hug trees for five minutes a day to help them through isolation. It may seem like a strange activity, but research suggests it can help people feel better.

One of the most difficult parts of social distance and self-isolation is the long-term physical separation of your friends and family. While the lockdown is getting longer and longer, we miss the hugs. We miss physical touch. And it is especially difficult for those who are quarantined alone. As these feelings of loneliness and isolation increase, Iceland is encouraging people to cuddle trees.

Rangers of the country's forest management are advising people to cuddle a tree five minutes a day in a from the country's national parks. "When you hug a tree, you first feel it between your toes and then up in your legs and in your chest, then up in your head," Þór Þorfinnsson, the forest manager for East Iceland, tells the public broadcaster of RÚV . "It is such a wonderful feeling of relaxation and you are ready for a new day and new challenges."

Research indeed shows that trees have healing powers. The Japanese tradition of forest bathing or shinrin-yoku became part of Japan's national health program in 1982. It essentially means immersing yourself in nature and being embraced by doctors around the world as a way to fight stress and improve health. One of the theories behind it states that phytoncides, the chemicals emitted from trees, can have a physiological effect on stress levels.

Iceland's forest management has posted several photos on the website as a visual guide to tree hugging (people are encouraged to hug different trees). The agency has also created trails through the snow at Hallormsstaður in East Iceland to make the trees more accessible, as well as widened trails so that walkers can follow the two-meter social distance rule.

Opening Image: BrianAJackson / iStock