I believe being outside and connecting to nature is critical to our health, and should be an important part of every single day. I’ve definitely experienced health benefits myself, and being outside in natural settings is something that I incorporate in every day. I also educate my clients on the importance of trying to do this. I recently did a 3-day coastal hike and did about 80% in bare feet. At the end of the 3 days a pain I had in my foot had gone, I had more energy, was sleeping better and my overall feeling of wellness had increased. This is a somewhat extreme example, however there are studies that have shown similar benefits by simply sitting or walking in a forest.
I’m so passionate about this, and thought I’d share just a little of what I know…
Grounding (or earthing) is the connection of our bare skin to the earth’s surface, and the beneficial effects of doing this. Humans like all animals were meant to have this essential connection to the earth, which acts like a nutrient in our bodies in helping our bodies function at their best and prevent disease. We call this essential nutrient Vitamin G for ground.
Many people are aware of the feeling we get from grounding through things like walking barefoot on the grass (especially when its damp), walking on sand (especially wet sand), swimming in the ocean, and that it gives a sense of wellbeing building in our bodies. We feel better both physically and mentally after time being grounded with the earth. Some people may feel tingling in their feet as they walk along the ground without shoes. These feelings are due to our bodies subtle electrical energies coming in contact with those of the earth.
There are now numerous scientific studies that demonstrate these positive effects. One research study done in 2014 by the University of Oregon demonstrated rapid and lasting changes in physical and bioelectrical physiology. More specifically the changes indicated reduction in stress levels, pain and improved sleep quality; as well as adjustments in muscle tension towards optimal levels. The study measured things such as cortisol levels, EEG, EMG and BVP; with some of the changes taking place less than a second after earthing.
Humans (and all animals) are electrical beings, and there is an electrical influence on all our physiological processes including with our cells, tissues and organs. Our cells are constantly using sodium and potassium ions to produce voltage changes. The frequencies of our cells are a focus of a number of natural therapies including Traditional Chinese Medicine, and modern medicine has also been able to measure things such as brain waves by developing machines that can measure our body’s frequencies. It is widely understood that we have a natural frequency that is similar to the earths of 7.83 hertz on average (also called the Schumann Resonance). The earths frequency can be measured in nature, however often can not be measured in cities, indicating that man made influences have an impact on it, and therefore our wellbeing. There have been studies done to show that when we are cut off from the earth’s natural frequency we will develop health issues such as emotional problems, headaches, inflammation generally and declines in immune response. When people are exposed again to 7.83-hertz frequency their symptoms often disappear.
Regardless of whether you’re able to be barefoot or not there are benefits of simply being in nature and green spaces with trees. In Japan they call this forest bathing or Shinrin Yoku; and it is a very popular pastime due to the believed health benefits. There are now numerous studies that demonstrate doing this can reduce the incidence of a number of chronic disease, lower cortisol levels, reduce heart rate amongst other health benefits. Some believe it is the protective Phytoncides released by dense amounts of plants (especially wood plants) in these areas and absorbed by us, that creates these benefits.
Some of the things that increase our disconnection to the earth include:
- Wearing shoes all the time
- Working and living in multi-story and high rise buildings
- Lifestyles that have increasingly taken people indoors and away from nature
- Connection with technology which interferes with our connection to the earths frequency
- Potentially most significantly, wearing insulting shoes
Some of the ways you can increase your connection to earth and feel the health benefits include:
- Simply being in nature including green spaces that have trees
- Sitting, standing or walking outside on the ground with your shoes off
- Walking on damp ground or beach or being in the ocean could potentially be even more effective as water and particularly salt water is more conductive
- Using grounding mats in buildings during sleep and seated activities to create a grounded effect – ensuring that expert advice is received to ensure there are no negative effects of this
If you are looking at a place to start, why not simply sit with your bare feet on the ground for 20 minutes per day.