Hugging is one of the warmest feelings in the world that fills everyone’s hearts with content and satisfaction, but the social distancing norms have made it necessary to keep away from one another. Iceland has found a way to keep the positivity alive and stay calm through the lockdown. By Manya Saini

The worldwide lockdown brought by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has brought into the forefront the problems of people struggling to cope with anxiety, depression, and cabin fever. Amid this, Iceland’s forestry service has found a solution to help you beat the isolation blues hand in hand with nature. Icelanders are being encouraged to hug trees every day for five minutes.

 

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It might seem strange and unusual but research suggest that it is an effective coping mechanism for people. As the lockdown continues, the physical separation is a difficult situation particularly for those who are quarantined alone. Iceland’s response to help with the feelings of loneliness is unique.

Rangers from the forest service are recommending people to hug a tree, with the hope that nature will help people relax and give them a fresh outlook to go through the challenges of these extraordinary times.

There has been much research on the healing and calming qualities of trees, so much so that the Japanese practise of forest bathing or shinrin-yoku was officially made a part of the country’s national health programme back in 1982. It advocates immersing yourself in nature to unwind from stress and improve your overall health.

 

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Not only has the forestry service of Iceland uploaded pictures on its website as a visual guide for the practice but it has also cut paths through the snow in Hallormsstaður to make the trees accessible. The agency has widened the paths to accommodate the hikers so that there is no compromise on the social distancing rule.

Nature can help us all get through the lockdown with the simplest of ways. So, if you can’t hug a friend, hug a tree!

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