Wet arbutus at Lively Peak.

With cases surging and lockdowns getting ever stricter, everyone is anxious about Covid-19. There is, however, a surprisingly easy way to relax, to soothe the mind and to forget all those cares, while self-isolating and keeping safe at the same time.

Forest bathing, also known as nature therapy or ecotherapy, is the answer. And on the southern Gulf Islands, where we’re surrounded by majestic seascapes and stunning rainforests, it’s easy to do. Pender Island, for example, has more than 90 trails that lead to delightful natural habitats where you can unwind in peace.

Fungus enriches a log

For centuries, we’ve known that being in nature makes us feel good, yet it has become a forgotten practice — immersed in an urban culture, typical North American spend 93% of their time indoors.

To get away, I frequently go for a quiet stroll up to Roe Lake, located in a charming isolated part of Pender Island, where I enjoy the whispering of the wind in the branches, the scent of the trees, the fresh, invigorating air and sunlight dappling through the leaves. It feels like I’ve been transported to a planet of pleasure and contentment.

Sunrise at Port Browning

Last week on a misty day, I hiked the Found Road trail off Clam Bay Road, following a long boardwalk glistening with rain droplets, past ghost-like alders and then to a

Rays of light radiate

large granite boulder partially encased in bright green moss and dark root tentacles. An erratic, the boulder was brought here by glaciers from some faraway place. A wooden staircase led to a beach looking over Plumper Sound where I sat on one of the bleached logs encircling the high tide mark like a necklace. Listening to the gentle back and forth swoosh of waves, my cares and worries disappeared.

Numerous studies have shown that even small amounts of forest bathing, that is, connecting with nature through all five senses, make us feel better and improves our health. I often go to Gowlland Point or hike up to Oaks Bluff or visit Greenburn Lake where I love sitting in solitude, listening to birds singing, the breeze rustling in the trees and try to distinguish the myriad different greens,

Boardwalk along Found Road trail.

Rocky seashore at Beaumont Marine Park

like notes of a symphony, playing through the forest. Placing my hands on the trunk of a tree, I feel far removed from the tensions that are gripping the world. I am experiencing a sixth sense, a peaceful state of mind. I am one with nature.