People Have Found a New Way to Relieve Stress: Hugging Trees

Tree hugging

Photos / Xiaohongshu

People in China have found a new way to relieve stress: hugging trees.

This trend is reported to have started in Shanghai and has spread to other cities.

Advocates share their experiences on a chat group on the website Baidu and the social media platform Xiaohongshu. According to them, it relieves them of anxiety and stress.

A report on Shanghai TV said that supporters just choose a tree they like and hug it. It takes a few minutes but it can last for hours.

One said, “Obviously I am hugging the tree, but I feel that the tree is hugging me back,” while another claimed “When my whole body and face touched the tree, a sense of tranquility was transmitted into my brain. Gradually, I had more energy and I felt healed. What’s more, the longer you hug the tree, the more you will be dependent on it. It is so magical.”

Even celebrities in China have embraced the trend, like Jin Chen, Zhou Ye, and He Sui.

This trend of hugging trees is not new.

One early example is shinrin-yoku, which is translated to “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It’s a term that the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries coined in 1982 to encourage people to visit forests to relieve stress.

Research states that exposure to forests boosts the immune system, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves mood. The Scottish Wildlife Trust states that “when you hug a tree, you release a hormone called oxytocin – known as the hormone of love and trust – which gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling.”

So how do you correctly hug a tree? Chinese enthusiasts have shared their tips.

According to Sky, a Shanghai-based psychological healing specialist, you should choose trees that are at least 10 years old. You should only hug trees during sunny days. Doing so at night may bring worms, and stormy days may increase the chances of lightning strikes.

Sky said, “First you should feel gratitude for the tree. While embracing it, you should say to yourself, ‘Thank you and I love you’. Then you can pour out your innermost thoughts to the tree.”

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