Do you feel like you just have to put your feet in the water when you go to the beach? Or love the feeling of grass on your barefeet?
It might not just feel good, but also help with sleep and healing.
Scientific research is limited, but a couple studies suggest the contact between the human body and the surface of the Earth has an impact on health. It’s known as grounding or Earthing. Grounding can help with sleep, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
While the science is thin, there’s no real harm in giving it a try. Just take off your hiking boots when you reach the river and put your feet in. Doesn’t have to be your feet, either. You could splash with your hands. You could also walk through grass barefoot. If you prefer, lay in the grass or let the grass slip through your fingers.
If you’re more of a beach person, slip off your flip-flops or touch the sand with your hands.
The theory is that your body picks up electrons that are plentiful on the ground. Humans are positively charged while the earth is negatively charged. The electrons you pick up go to work neutralizing reactive oxygen that damages healthy tissue.
We’re not going to advise you to rub dirt into your wounds, but if you have a nasty cut, picking up some electrons with intact skin just might help.
Our modern culture has gotten us away from feeling the Earth. We wear synthetic shoes and spend more time indoors. Taking a few moments to make contact with the ground can be like a battery recharging us.
Of course, there are also grounding materials you can buy and use indoors, but we like the (free!) idea of getting closer to the outside world.
Studies have also shown that time in nature improves mental health. Just 20 to 30 minutes outdoors can decrease markers of stress. You don’t even have to go far. A small urban park works fine. Slipping off shoes optional.
Another option is gardening. In a meta-analysis comparing gardeners to non-gardeners, gardeners had significantly lower rates of mental health symptoms, body mass index, and higher reports of life satisfaction.
So, go ahead, put your hands in the dirt and see if you feel a little bit better and that wound heals a little bit quicker.
Image by JohnnyGreig