Hug a tree – it really makes you feel better!

On my wedding day, I remember TOUCHING a tree; it made me happy.

I wondered, why touching or hugging a tree is good for me?  I decided to do some research.

According to Wikipedia: “hugging a tree increases levels of the hormone oxytocin which is responsible for feeling calm and emotional bonding. When hugging a tree, the hormones serotonin and dopamine make you feel happier.”

There is increasing evidence that trees are also good for our mental health according to an article in the “Conversation” in 2012. 

It seems that trees and green spaces offer multiple health benefits from allergy reductions to increases in self-esteem and mental well-being. Trees not only improve our psychological health, but they also contribute to keeping our bodies healthy. Combatting air pollution, trees absorb air-borne pollutants. Not only absorbing harmful chemicals, but trees also release beneficial ones. Chemicals released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, were found to boost the immune system.

When hugging a person is off-limits, what can we do to feel comfort? Why not try hugging a tree?

Overseas some countries have been finding ways to get positive benefits from trees. To beat the Covid-19 blues, the Icelandic Forestry Service encouraged people to hug trees while social distancing measures prevented them from hugging loved ones. Rangers marked out intervals of two metres within the forest so that visitors could enjoy nature without fear of getting too close to each other. While David Knott in the UK was on a mission to hug 350 trees to raise funds to help save trees in Sequoia Avenue at Benmore Botanic Garden.

While in Aotearoa New Zealand, with our clean green image, we are for the most part getting out into nature. During the pandemic, Jennifer Little missed the feeling of touch, so decided to hug a tree and wrote about it in an article in the Spinoff.

So, I’ll take a moment to notice and enjoy trees. They may be impacting my health more than I think. Something for us all to ponder in these challenging times.

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