Reducing Stress the Lithuanian Way: Sauna Rituals, Amber Hunting, and Stargazing
Lithuania’s historic connection with nature and slow way of life has taught the locals a few tricks for to combat stress and anxiety, such as a sense-tingling sauna ritual filled with aromatic herbs and pleasant heat or hunting for amber — affectionately named Lithuanian gold — on the vast beaches of the country’s seaside.
The hustle and bustle of the winter celebrations can take a toll on physical and mental health, leaving people feeling drained and run down afterwards. Lithuania is offering visitors a chance to relax by partaking in tension-relieving activities beloved by the locals, including saunas, stargazing, and hunting for amber by the sea.
According to a recent Sleepopolis survey, around 66% of respondents reported that they experienced an increase in stress during the 2022 holiday season. Without taking the time to relax and de-stress, people may find themselves feeling burnt out and exhausted long after the holiday season is over.
Those seeking respite from a busy December need not look any further than Lithuania, a country filled with little corners of paradise surrounded by forests and fresh air, vast sandy beaches, and locals that prefer a slow way of life. Employing truly Baltic ways to relax — from going amber hunting by the seaside to stargazing, to sweating it out in a sauna — is a surefire way to rejuvenate the body and mind when feeling fatigued.
Below is a list of five tension-melting activities often used by Lithuanians to unwind.
A touch of the bath whisk. The ancient practice of sauna bathing is being revisited by people all around the world as researchers continue to discover its therapeutic benefits. In contrast, sauna-bathing is a cultural staple in Lithuania, where there are many distinct sorts of sauna experiences available thanks to centuries-old customs. The mild slapping of bathers with bath whisks or brooms — bundles of birch or oak twigs — is a unique practice at Lithuanian saunas. Along with this routine, massages using salt, crushed chestnuts, clay, honey, and other organic materials are often performed. An exhilarating dip in a cold pond is a staple way to close out the almost four-hour-long ritual, boosting the immune system and invigorating the mind.
Observing the Lithuanian sky. Staring into the night sky and admiring the vast expanses of our cosmos can be a great way to become grounded and feel one with your surroundings, allowing measly, everyday worries to be forgotten. When Lithuanians are seeking this sense of wonder, most go to the space station-like Molėtai Astronomical Observatory, and spend some time with the stars. Solar telescopes may be used to observe the magnificent sun during the day, while at night one can count constellations and observe a meteor shower. Experienced educators enthusiastically welcome children to explore the wonders of space while patiently responding to their queries, making this an ideal getaway for a family.
Foraging for nature’s treats. Even during a hearty Lithuanian winter, enthusiastic mushroom-pickers can still find varieties of edible fungi in the country’s picturesque, white forests. Dzūkija, a region in the southeast of Lithuania characterized by its love for putting the gifts of nature on the table, is one of the best places to experience the calming hunt for a basket full of king boletes, chanterelles, and red pine mushrooms amid the calming stillness of the trees. Over 91% of the Dzūkija National Park is covered by lush, green forests, so everyone has a chance at finding a bountiful patch of mushrooms.
Hunt for Lithuanian gold. The folklore of Lithuania greatly values amber, which is sometimes referred to as Lithuanian gold and is said to ward off evil and foster creativity — an all-purpose medicine for those stressed out post-holidays.Today, we still count on the unique properties of amber, using it to craft jewelry, as well as in the form of amber powder, oil and incense in spas. Visitors are advised to visit Klaipėda‘s — the country’s largest port city’s — beaches immediately following a storm when high waves transport amber to the shore from the bottom of the Baltic Sea in order to locate some of these fossilized tree resins. Visitors are encouraged to tour the Museum of Amber, which is housed in the former palace of counts Tiškeviciai in Palanga to learn more about Lithuanian gold.
See the otherworldly lights of Vilnius. Although Lithuanians are lovers of nature at heart, there are a few ways to de-stress without having to leave a city full of mood-boosting lights. From the 25th to the 28th of January, Lithuania’s midwinter will become illuminated by the highly-anticipated Vilnius Light Festival. The most unexpected locations in the capital city, including a 14th-century Franciscan Monastery in the Old Town, the Church of St. Catherine, the 326-meter-tall TV Tower, as well as quaint urban yards, squares, and parks, will once again light up with various installations and digital art. This year, expectations are high as the festival will commemorate Vilnius’ 700th anniversary. Thus, those seeking to become inspired and bid farewell to post-holiday fatigue will have a chance to immerse themselves in a mesmerizing blend of lights, art, and architecture. Although Lithuanians are lovers of nature at heart, there are a few ways to de-stress without having to leave the city.
Those unsure of just how drained the holidays have left them can also get their stress levels measured in the capital. As part of the X-mas-stress? Let it out in Lithuania! campaign, a new, stress combating installation has popped up right in the heart of Vilnius’ Kudirkos square. By looking into the installation’s screen, visitors will receive their stress rating and — granted that it is high enough — may even get a special tool for releasing stress and suppressing any leftover negativity.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.