Whew. What a few weeks it’s been. Like it or not, most of us are now finding ourselves at home with more time and space than usual. In the midst of all the uncertainty, one thing’s certain: right now we need to show gentleness to others, to ourselves and to our bodies.
While I know firsthand the fear that can creep in, I also whole-heartedly believe that the more we allow stress into our space, the more susceptible our immune system and the less we have to give to those around us. While it’s important to be prepared, it’s equally as important to take care of your body and mental health.
Now more than ever is a great time to do activities that will reduce stress and boost your well-being. Enter grounding. Grounding is a great way to get outside and boost your overall wellness, while still being careful if you’re practicing social distancing (which hopefully you are!) It is not only incredibly connective and calming, it can even boost immunity.
So what is grounding? The alternative medicine practice, also called “earthing,” is one of those things that has a fancy word but is actually quite basic. Grounding simply means spending time in nature barefoot, and putting your feet in direct contact with the ground (such as soil, water, sand or any conductive surface). This contact with the earth is an easy way to absorb the electromagnetic charge of the Earth, offering an amazing boost to your overall well-being.
It doesn’t take much! Start small with a few minutes a day, and enjoy a little boost of vitamin D while you’re at it. Some of my favorite ways to incorporate grounding throughout my day is to skip the shoes when I check the mail, water my outdoor plants and have lunch outside on the grass (barefooted of course.) I’ve been grounding every day for the past couple weeks and have been so thankful for such a calming practice.
Read on for a few benefits of connecting more directly to the earth and let us know in the comments below: what are you doing to reduce stress?
Grounding Neutralizes Free Radicals
To start, grounding reduces free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive atoms that are generated when our bodies deal with inflammation, viruses, infection, cell damage, trauma, stress, and our toxic environments, and they cause our immune system to work in overdrive to respond to these threats. Free radicals play a major role in combating these things, but when they build up in our system, they can cause a plethora of health problems and increase our susceptibility to chronic issues. The good news is we can easily discharge these via grounding! The negative electrons from the earth quench the free radicals, thus supporting our immune system.
Grounding Improves Immunity and Lowers Inflammation
Possibly the best reason to start grounding of all! Studies have proven that grounding improves cortisol levels. Since high cortisol (often associated with stress) leads to inflammation throughout the body, grounding can not only lower cortisol but decrease inflammation – which has been linked to increased risks for autoimmunity, infections, chronic pain and general weakened immune system. Walking on the ground with bare feet discharges the free radicals that can be generated by inflammatory factors such as stress, trauma and sickness. As grounding neutralizes free radicals, the immune system calms. Consequently, healing proceeds at a faster rate and the body is able to combat infection, more efficiently repair cells and detox waste.
Grounding Improves Sleep and Reduces Pain
We all know by now that time in nature is amazingly calming and regenerating. When grounding, the influx of negative electrons from the earth has been shown to calm the nervous system by shifting the autonomic nervous system from the sympathetic, “fight-or-flight” branch toward the parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” branch. Which we all could use some extra support in! Stress reduction is also vital for managing pain and improving sleep quality. In a blind pilot study, for subjects suffering from sleep disturbances and chronic muscle and joint pain, grounding each night for one month produced a 74% to 100% improvement in quality of sleep, feeling rested upon waking, muscle stiffness and pain, chronic back and joint pain, and general well-being. Another study showed less anxiety, more energy and a decrease in hot flashes!