Even saying the word ‘grounded’ makes me feel more …. well, grounded! It just has all those connotations of stability and calm.
What I wanted to talk about today though, is not that idea of ‘feeling’ grounded but actually being in physical connection with the earth. This is also often referred to as ‘earthing’ and is reputed to have some great benefits for us. How do you fancy some of this:
- decreased inflammation and pain
- reduced stress (see last week’s post to remind you of all the damage stress does to you)
- improved circulation, blood pressure and heart health
- improved sleep and increased energy levels
- improved biological rhythms, including circadian rhythms and jet lag
Yes, I’m up for that! Let’s have a look at the why and the how.
I’m going to hand over to Dr Sinatra here for the ‘why’ (because he has done research and written academic papers on the subject, and because I don’t have any understanding of science!): “The Earth’s surface contains a limitless number of free electrons that are continually replenished through solar radiation and lightning strikes; your body naturally absorbs these particles when you make physical contact with the ground. In the body, these electrons have an anti-inflammatory effect because they reduce the free-radical activity that causes inflammation and chronic pain. (If you remember your high school science, electrons are negatively charged. Inflammation-causing free radicals are positively charged, which means the additional free electrons neutralize the free radicals.) The energy of the free electrons gained through grounding also helps keep your body’s innate electrical circuitry properly balanced. All of these effects of grounding are extremely beneficial to heart health.”
And from Deepak Chopra: “You are a bioelectrical being living on an electrical planet. Your body operates electrically. All of your cells transmit multiple frequencies that run, for example, your heart, immune system, muscles, and nervous system.”
So now we know why, here’s the how – and it couldn’t be simpler. Grounding is as simple as walking barefoot outside (or even just standing still or sitting in a chair with your bare feet on the ground)!
If you think about it, rubber or plastic soled shoes which can’t conduct the earth’s electrical energies are a relatively new thing. For most of history (and in many parts of the lesser-industrialised world today) people were either barefoot or wore leather footwear, which protected their feet from sharp objects but didn’t block out the earth’s electrons. It seems that 30-40 minutes a day is recommended but more is better and less is still worth a try.
If putting your bare feet on the ground just isn’t going to happen, there is also a range of grounding products out there, from bed sheets to sandals. I’m not going to link to them because I’ve got no experience of them, and I would definitely favour the free option, but you’ll find them easily enough if you search ‘grounding products’.
I started to walk barefoot whenever I got the chance a year or so back when I was looking for natural ways to bring my blood pressure down. Unlike many people, I wasn’t even in the habit of walking about the house barefoot as we have terracotta tiles through most of the ground floor and even in summer (or what passes for summer in Scotland!) they’re just too cold. However, I started with hanging out my washing barefoot and discovered that I really liked the feel of the cool, often damp-ish, grass. I kept a towel by the back door to give my feet a wipe when I got back in.
Then I progressed to slipping my shoes off if I was walking on grass anywhere, and then to walking in the little wood beside my house. That is a real exercise in mindfulness to make sure that I don’t stand on anything prickly, spiky or otherwise nasty! I did get out of the habit of it though as summer progressed and the wood was completely engulfed by huge ferns. May is a good month for it though, so time to get started again. I found myself enjoying it so much more than I would ever have thought I would.
Did it bring my blood pressure down? Well, something did but it wasn’t the only intervention I was trying so once again, who knows. I did rediscover the joys of going barefoot though!
So are you a barefoot hippy or is it boots and shoes all the way?
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