Lonely people who miss human contact during the coronavirus pandemic are being encouraged to go hug a tree. 

It turns out hugging trees is actually good for your health, and not just one of those crazy ideas your hippie aunt likes to talk about. The idea of getting up close and personal with trees is getting some newfound attention these days, in large part, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In Israel, it is being recommended by the country’s Nature and Parks Authority that people experiencing loneliness and detachment can find comfort in the arms of a tree. This follows a similar campaign put out by Iceland’s Forest Service in April and May, where Icelanders were recommended to hug a tree once a day to help them relax, overcome feelings of isolation, and strengthen their total sense of well-being. 

“In this unpleasant corona period we recommend to people around the world to go out to nature, take a deep breath, hug a tree, express your love and get love,” said Orit Steinfeld, authority marketing director for Apollonia National Park.

Tree hugging has been around for ages and has been studied by the scientific community. A study released in 2019 in Nature found that spending even two hours in nature every week will increase a person’s overall well-being. Physical exercise comes with time in nature, as does passive time spent interacting with the outdoors, such as sitting in a park or watching wildlife, bringing both physical and mental benefits.

The study calls for further research into the benefit of contact with the natural environment and positive health and mental effects and points to many reasons why exposure to nature may be beneficial to humans.

“Be careful not to hug just for a moment. Take hold of the tree and wait until you begin to feel the amount of life begin to flow into you from the tree,” said Icelandic Forest Service, describing hugging as a healing act.

Below are a few pictures of members of Iceland's Forest Service and their families hugging trees.  

kids hugging trees

man hugging a tree

man hugging tree in snow
Images courtesy of Iceland Forest Service

Whether or not you choose to hug a tree, spending time outside—‚especially when things are uncertain—is a great way to keep yourself active. Getting out of the house, unplugging from the TV, phone, social media, and the never-ending news cycle is good for mental health. Instilling a love and respect for the great outdoors in kids, renewing a love for an old outdoor hobby, or learning a whole new one can all show how awesome nature is.

We're not sure if the trees appreciate the hugging, but it sure seems like plenty of people are trying it! 

What do you think? Would you want to cuddle up with a tree? Comment below.