By Jane Marshall

Last week I went for a nature walk with my little niece and nephew. We were following the 2 meter rule as best we could. They looked so cute running around in the forest and I reached out to give one of them a hug… and then stopped myself. A physical pang reverberated deep in my chest at the loss of contact.

So many of us are feeling the effects of physical distancing. A loss of hugs, kisses, hand shakes, hand holding, high fives, and pats on the back.

So what can we do?

Until there’s a solution around COVID-19, I recommend hugging a tree.

Most of us have heard of the benefits of forest bathing. Take it a bit further, and imagine what happens when you wrap your arms around a tree trunk and touch your chest and your heart to it.

It’s magic. And it’s been keeping me sane amidst COVID-19 restrictions.

The Icelandic Forestry Service recommends tree hugging as a way to feel good during coronavirus times. They’re working hard to clear pathways so Icelanders can social distance while still reaping the benefits of their national forests.

“When you hug [a tree], you feel it first in your toes and then up your legs and into your chest and then up into your head. It’s such a wonderful feeling of relaxation and then you’re ready for a new day and new challenges.” — Forest Ranger Þór Þorfinnsson, Iceland Review

Read the full article here:

Forest Service Recommends Hugging Trees While You Can’t Hug Others

Think you’ll feel funny? Even this hardcore scientist can’t deny the effects of close physical contact with a tree:

I Hugged a Tree and I Liked It

The Limber Pine

I have a personal favourite: The Limber Pine.

  • It can live up to 1,000 years!
  • It’s an endangered species
  • Grizzly and black bears love to eat its rich pinecones

I seek them out on the eastern flanks of the Rockies. They look gnarled and twisted and have so much character. They weave their roots into the rocks and are formed into fantastic shapes by the wind. Sometimes I feel like they are my friends! 

How to Hug a Tree

You don’t need instructions!

But here’s how I do it. I set out for a walk or hike. I give my mind time to settle. I smell the air and feel the breeze on my skin and let myself reset to nature’s rhythms. Sometimes I’ll notice a beautiful or unique tree and be drawn to it. I approach slowly and with respect. I touch my forehead to the bark and wrap my arms around it. I let my chest make contact.

I recommend spending a couple of minutes with a tree — time to stop thinking and just… FEEL.

I hope my tree images provide you with a natural respite during these historical coronavirus times. Happy tree hugging!