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The Benefits of Earthing (and How to Do it!)

Author: Jamie Stephens, NTP

Imagine yourself at the beach, the sun is shining, a cool breeze is blowing with waves lapping on the beach as you walk barefoot on the sand with the water rushing over your feet.  You are in a state of complete relaxation and you feel amazing. You probably attest this state of stress-free bliss to being at the beach. And you wouldn’t be wrong, because being outdoors in nature can have amazing effects on our health.  However, did you ever consider going barefoot could also be part of this equation? What you are doing when you walk around barefoot is called “Earthing” or “Grounding” yourself. Have you ever noticed the warmth rising up or a tingly feeling in your toes when you are walking barefoot on fresh dewy grass?  That feeling is your body connecting with the Earth’s natural electric energy!

What is Earthing?

Earthing is simply being in contact with the Earth, with the skin of our body touching the surface of the Earth.  Though we live on the Earth, most of our lives we are disconnected from direct contact with the Earth. We live and work in carpeted or hardwood floor homes and buildings, some many stories off the ground. When we do go outside, we have insulated our feet with shoes and can’t make direct contact with the Earth.  Our ancestors, on the other hand, lived most of their lives connected to the Earth nearly 24 hours a day, walking barefoot and sleeping on the ground. Actually up until World War ll and the invention of synthetic soled shoes, people were still connected to the Earth, wearing conductive leather shoes. Since that time, we have been ungrounded and disconnected most of our lives.  

How does Earthing work?

You’re probably wondering how going barefoot outside could possibly be good for your health.

Well, let’s talk about electricity for a moment.  In case you didn’t know… you’re electric! Your body is actually bioelectric, and every movement, behavior and thought is based on electric transmissions in the body from your heart to your brain.  The Earth is also electric and flowing with energetic free electrons giving it a natural negative charge. When our electric bodies connect with the Earth’s negative electric charge called Telluric current, we absorb these negative electrons.  The negative electrons then correct our electrical imbalances by reducing oxidative free radicals.  Those free radicals are involved in aging, chronic inflammation, and disease.  So Earthing is very similar to taking large amounts of antioxidants, which combat free radicals in the body that induce aging and inflammation.   

Why should you try Earthing?

One of the most important benefits of Earthing is that it helps balance the autonomic nervous system which regulates many important processes in the body such as heart rate, respiration rate, digestion, perspiration and urination.  It switches your autonomic nervous system from a sympathetic state of fight or flight mode to a parasympathetic state of relaxation. When we feel stressed or have anxiety, our body is in the sympathetic state.  It is in this calm parasympathetic state that the body is able to rest, digest, repair and heal itself.  You’ve probably heard yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are all good for stress relief. That is because like Earthing, these practices shift  the body into a calm parasympathetic state. Basically it will de-stress your body and allow for it to begin repairing and restoring any imbalances.  People who practice Earthing regularly claim to sleep better, have less pain, more energy, improved mood, and quicker healing. Earthing has also been researched and shown to come with a world of benefits including:

How to start Earthing

With all the positive potential benefits, you’re probably ready to join the barefoot revolution.  The simplest way to get started is by removing your shoes and socks and going for a barefoot stroll on your lawn or the closest park.  An important note to remember is that in order to reap the benefits of grounding, you must have your skin connecting to the Earth or wearing conductive footwear such as leather moccasins.  Don’t have a park or lawn nearby? Don’t worry! You can still ground by walking on cement sidewalks because it’s also conductive. In general, the longer you ground, the better! However, even just a few minutes is enough to shift the body into the parasympathetic state and begin to feel the positive impact from the Earth’s natural energy.  For the most optimum results, studies show that sleeping grounded is required. Despite all the positive benefits, most people aren’t going to sleep outside on the ground, and for that reason, several Earthing sheets, bed pads and other products have been developed, allowing for people to sleep grounded in the comfort of their own home. However, a good place to start is just doing a few minutes of Earthing in the morning, evening or whenever you feel stress coming on.  Note: If you are on any blood thinning medications or thyroid hormones, be sure to let your doctor know if you begin Earthing on a regular basis as adjustments may need to be made.
Remember, the next time you’re looking for something more Noomy and mindful as a de-stressor or healthy swap for some stress snacking, try Earthing for 10-20 minutes!  What do you have to lose by going outside barefoot? You might get some funny looks, but you might just find that you are feeling calm and revitalized with no need for a snack after all.  It might even be something to make part of your daily stress management and self-care routine!  For more ideas check out 5 Ways to Let Mother Nature Help Your Health.