Stressed out? Here are 6 ways Estonia’s pure nature can help

Source: VisitEstonia

Stressed out? Here are 6 ways Estonia’s pure nature can help

Source: VisitEstonia

Estonia, a destination reachable by plane in around three hours from even the furthest of European capitals, is a country half covered by forest, has five national parks (each with their very own distinct personality), has a selection of wonderful beaches and several notable lakes. The tap water is pure, much of the food is natural and unprocessed and they really know how to host a sauna party.

The Estonians themselves are very proud of their pure and natural land, and have long known the health benefits that come from being in such stunning, natural surroundings. But there's a small problem for them, there really aren't that many of them; the Estonian population currently stands at a mere 1,305,310 (as at Friday 18th August 2017, based on UN estimates), with 65.7% of this figure living in urban areas. The Estonians have space, they want to show off their beautiful country, and they want to show it to you.

A new study carried out amongst Norwegian adults suggests that a quarter of Norwegians reported feeling stressed four days a week or more, with significantly more women feeling anxious than men, in fact well over 50%. The results also showed a substantial drop in stress levels of the over 50s, with the 30-39 age group suffering the most.

Similar studies from around the world echoed these figures. Germany's leading health insurer TK Die Techniker recently published a study which showed that 61% of people said they 'often' or 'sometimes' felt stressed, when questioned. The remaining 39% answered either 'rarely', 'no' or 'don't know'.

In the light of this trend much research has been done about the links between being in nature and a notable reduction of stress. Dr Mathew White, a social and environmental psychologist at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at Exeter University, UK stated, "Our data suggests that visiting a natural environment that has as few human elements as possible (including sounds) as little as once a week for 30 minutes is associated with significantly better health. Two or three such visits a week have increased benefits. All activities seem to be good, walking, cycling, fishing; sitting on a bench."

With that in mind here are the top five recreational activities that can be enjoyed in Estonia that really get you face to face with nature.

Hiking/Canoeing

The Estonians love to hike, as do many people around the world, but not all may have as developed a hiking network as they do in Estonia. The most impressive of which takes in stunning scenery, has a range of cottages and camping options and is 870km long! Those who enjoy being around water will enjoy what's known as 'the fifth season', a time in early spring when the river basins overflow, flooding the meadows and forests of the Soomaa National Park to create an almost otherworldly canoeing experience.

Canoeing and kayaking in Estonia

Photo by: Visit Estonia

Foraging

There's a certain time of the year when the forests come alive with those looking to collect its fruits. From July to October the mushrooms and berries are available in abundance, and the locals are always among the first to go and investigate. With comfortable clothes, a basket and a small knife you can experience the real pleasure of finding and picking your own wild foods; a great way to connect with nature, whilst doing it and later at the dining table!

Wild berry picking 

Photo by: Aron Urb

Camping/Glamping

In a country with such an abundance of natural beauty it's no surprise that camping is the favourite pursuit of many in Estonia. Many see camping as a chance to get the tents up and be at one with the wilderness, others wish to be out in the natural environment but with a few luxuries from home; Estonia has it all. In fact, it is often remarked that the facilities at Estonian campsites are some of the most well equipped; more importantly they're free. The selection of accommodation ranges from natural places to camp by the sea, near bogs or in the forest; right through to countryside spas, with a wonderful mix of cottages, quirky or quite luxurious huts and more functional managed campsites in between.

Bog Walking

Some say this is Estonia's ace card. There's a comprehensive network of bog trails across Estonia with specially erected boardwalks just above the marshland. Passing through enchanting forests, the boardwalks take in a stunning vista of bogs and sparsely covered meadows, often covered with a light magical mist. These trails have such different personalities, some have museums, secluded villages and other are close to campsites, perfect for explorers to set up camp and recharge before heading on to their next adventure. A truly breath-taking way to cross an entire country and experience the nature of Estonia in all its mystical glory.

Männikjärv hiking trail

Photo by: Sven Zacek

Last updated : 20.10.2017
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