Kick off your shoes
Once a symbol of hippiedom, kicking off your shoes and walking barefoot through the grass has now become a wellness trend. Called grounding or earthing, the idea behind it is that humans have lost direct contact with the Earth’s subtle electric charge. Grounding advocates say this disconnect may contribute to the chronic diseases commonly found in Western societies.
And there may be some science to it. Results of a 2015 study published in the Journal of Inflammation Research found that “the disconnection from the Earth may be an important, insidious, and overlooked contribution to physiological dysfunction and to the alarming global rise in non-communicable, inflammatory-related chronic diseases.” According to the research, grounding also appears to improve sleep, normalise the day–night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, and stress.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Iona from Edinburgh is convinced grounding helps mellow her mood. “Thanks to grounding, I am more in control and no longer such a 'shouty’ mum. Grounding left me feeling peaceful and it meant that, in home and work situations, I didn't react in the way I used to.” Iona practises grounding in her garden. “I feel soothed by the earth under my feet,” she says. “I take deep breaths in and out, imagining the air moving from my head to my soles. While it can be cold, I'm lucky to have a large garden with 200-year-old trees.”
UK mental health charity Mind recommends a number of grounding strategies, walking outside (barefoot or not) among them. Others include stroking a soft blanket or pet, splashing cold water on your face, or cupping a warm drink in your hands. “These sensations connect you with the here and now,” says Mind’s Jo Hemming. “Studies show grounding supports a reduction in anxiety and increases wellbeing and resilience.” Practise and repetition is key, though, says Hemming, as grounding is not an overnight cure.