One of my favorite things to do was hanging around in the walnut tree outside my bedroom window. The thick, woody trunk made it easy to climb into its ever-inviting branches. I could sit up there for hours just thinking. Nothing special. Just everything in general.
Trees do so much more than just stand there and provide clean air, filter water and openly invite you to sit and enjoy the shade. Wherever they are, whether in a forest or in a forest, they seem to have that nurturing presence of peace and comfort – a perfect companion to alleviate anxiety and sadness.
In his book Blinded by Science, Matthew Silverstone explained that it is the vibrational properties of trees and plants that offer many health and wellbeing benefits. He said that “safe green spaces can be as effective as prescription drugs in treating some forms of mental illness”.
In a recent NPR interview, Suzanne Simard, research ecologist and professor at the University of British Columbia, described trees as “social creatures.” She explained how “trees are connected to neighboring trees by an underground network of mushrooms that resembles the neural networks in the brain”. Simard said that “trees can warn each other of dangers just like humans do” and shared how they take care of each other by sharing nutrients to keep each other healthy.
Several news articles over the past 18 months have recognized global efforts to educate people about the benefits of being with trees – especially hugging them to relieve stress. In Iceland, rangers cut trails through the forest snow, allowing people to approach trees when they cannot hug others. Do you remember the tree huggers in the 1970s?
If hugging a tree isn’t your thing, you can enjoy the same benefits of leaning against, standing by, or sitting against a tree. Any kind of physical contact connects you to the energy of the tree for relaxation, better sleep and a more positive attitude. For those who want to try tree hugging, we have a wide variety in our community.
Different trees can give you different feelings and emotions. Just like finding the right pair of shoes, you can hug as many as you like until you find your favorite.
And what can trees teach us? Much. Trees are a role model for being strong, grounded, and flexible. Their long cycle of growth shows patience and they are adaptable to their surroundings and seasons.
Definitely food for thought next time you admire or hug a tree. Enjoy!
Writer, Editor, and Spokesperson Cheryl Russell is a Laguna Woods Village resident. Contact her at [email protected]