Maybe it doesn’t sound as strange in Icelandic, the native tongue of Iceland, but recommending that people who can’t hug others during coronavirus pandemic seems… odd.
The advice comes from the Icelandic Forestry Service, and from forest ranger Þór Þorfinnsson in particular. The service has been recommending that Icelanders get outside and enjoy nature during this time, but Þór takes it further, recommending that people in need of contact hug a tree..
“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,” enthuses forest ranger. “It’s such a wonderful feeling of relaxation and then you’re ready for a new day and new challenges.”
The ranger is quick to point out that everyone doesn’t have to hug the same tree, and that the appearance of the tree isn’t really the point. To really get the full effect, tree huggers need to spend at least five minutes in the embrace. Þór says that hugging a tree many times a day is great, but if you give it five minutes, you’re good to go until the next day.
Þór has some suggestions on how to do it right:
“It’s also really nice to close your eyes while you’re hugging a tree. I lean my cheek up against the trunk and feel the warmth and the currents flowing from the tree and into me. You can really feel it.”
It sounds like Þór has a lot of experience hugging trees. Most people, or at least Americans, are more likely to break the social distancing rules and latch onto a loved one than to hug a conifer.