As someone who has always favored natural solutions and health remedies whenever I could, I recently noticed myself doing something instinctively, and it happened to be a central practice of alternative medicines dating back thousands of years: earthing. When I was younger, feeling anxious and off-kilter, I would run out the door just to stand on the grass, purposely leaving my shoes off so I could feel the ground beneath me. After a half hour or so, whatever weighed on my mind always seemed much smaller. The same still holds true.
Many societies have long appreciated the healing capacity of the Earth; Native American, Romani, and Indian cultures, to name a few, encourage walking barefoot as much as possible. And yoga, for example, is performed without shoes so that, when practicing, your body can align directly with the Earth through the soles of your feet. But over the span of hundreds of years, mankind has increasingly moved indoors. Even 50 years ago, people spent much more time outside than we do now.
We talk about the prevalence of anxiety resulting from increased societal pressure on our smart phones. While this poses part of the problem, more and more studies are showing that we have lost touch with our most natural state. “In our attempt to live a more comfortable life, we have removed ourselves from direct contact with the Earth,” says health and wellness coach, Caleb Backe with Maple Holistics. “Little do we realize that this contact contributes to our physiological and psychological wellness.”
The benefits of nature on our psychological state are no secret. As people lose trust in traditional medicine, some have started to uncover the science behind the Earth’s electromagnetic effect on our bodies. The idea is that we carry a positive charge and the Earth serves as a trillion-megawatt negatively-charged battery. Earthing, or grounding as it’s also called, is the balancing of the charges in the body by utilizing the electrons from the Earth’s surface.
According to long-time earthing leaders, when the charges in the body are not balanced, our biological processes are impacted and can create issues such as inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, and other resulting conditions. Psychotherapist and wellness coach Rebecca Capps uses grounding to help her clients heal. “As humans, we are bioelectrical beings who are residing on an electric planet,” she explains. “By reconnecting with the earth’s electrons through grounding, you might experience some positive physiological shifts in your overall well-being.”
That’s because these positive charges lead to the central largest health issue of our time: inflammation. The core of nearly every disease, inflammation rates since the 1950s have skyrocketed. Not coincidentally, some would argue, after World War II, the excess rubber from war products started replacing leather as the primary material used in shoe soles. Scientifically speaking, our feet hold the largest surface area of nerve endings in the body, and as an insulating substance, rubber halts the flow of electrons from the Earth to our feet, essentially shielding us from the healing power of these electrons.
The first step in combating the imbalance is simply walking outside barefoot. Think about how relaxed you feel walking on the beach, sand between your toes, or in a grassy park. In just twenty minutes, the electrons from the earth will flow into your cells. “Free electrons are carried up into the body, which are basically nature’s antioxidants that neutralize free radicals,” explains Backe. “Grounding also supports our heart rate variability, which in turn, reduces our sympathetic overdrive and balances the ANS.” The result of this is a reduction in our body’s stress response, she explains, limiting the onset of anxiety and depression.
No fresh grass nearby? No problem. If you live in a colder climate or urban area, you can purchase grounding mats online from around $50 and up. Easy to set up, these mats will help give your body the electrons it needs. You can even buy one to sleep on or rest your feet on under your desk at work. Whatever method of earthing you choose, listen to your body and take a moment to connect with the planet. You will, at the least, feel more relaxed as a result.