Iceland Encourages Residents to Hug a Tree for Five Minutes to Combat Loneliness

Construction Photography/Avalon /Getty Images
Construction Photography/Avalon /Getty Images / Construction Photography/Avalon /Getty Images

Iceland has a very wholesome suggestion for citizens craving physical contact in the age of social distancing: Find the nearest tree and give it a hug.

As Lonely Planet reports, the Icelandic Forest Service (IFS) says that spending at least five minutes a day hugging your arboreal neighbors is a great way to beat loneliness in quarantine. Paths have been plowed through the snow in East Iceland to give residents easier access to trees, and trails have been expanded so hikers can get outdoors while keeping their distance. The IFS even updated its website with photos of people embracing trees of all shapes and sizes.

Tree-hugging, according to East Iceland's forest manager Þór Þorfinnsson, produces feelings of relaxation and prepares you to take on whatever challenges lie ahead. ("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," Þorfinnsson told a public broadcast station.)

Þorfinnsson's anecdotal endorsement aside, exposure to trees has been shown to promote good health. Trees cleanse the air of pollutants and reduce stress in people living near them. You don't necessarily need to wrap your arms around a tree to reap those benefits, but if you have no one else to hug, it definitely won't hurt.

Iceland's national forests have remained open during the COVID-19 crisis, but that isn't the case for many green spaces in the U.S. If you're willing to settle for seeing trees instead of hugging them, here are some national parks you can visit remotely.

[h/t Lonely Planet]