Recent studies have shown that more time outdoors can have a positive impact on both your mental and physical health. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are taking advantage of spending extra time outdoors and reconnecting with nature.
Research suggests that just 120 minutes a week outdoors can pose significant health benefits, whether you’re vigorously exercising or sitting outside with your favorite book. As humans, we’re quite connected to nature and the earth itself. So much so, that further studies suggest different techniques, like earthing, that can help reconnect your body and mind to the earth.
So, what exactly is earthing?
Earthing, also known as grounding, is a therapeutic technique that involves electrically reconnecting you to the earth. The method involves direct contact with the earth’s surface by walking barefoot, sitting, working, and even sleeping outside. Though there are limited studies on the technique as a whole, recent research has shown that reconnection with the earth’s electrons can lead to positive physiological changes of well-being, like improved sleep and a reduction in pain.
According to an analysis in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, “during recent decades, chronic illness, immune disorders, and inflammatory diseases have increased dramatically, and some researchers have cited environmental factors as the cause.” The analysis continues to note that our modern society’s disconnection with the earth could pay a significant role in the increase of these ailments, as the vast majority of society no longer absorbs energy from the earth or walks around barefoot due to the widespread use of shoes with rubber soles. One study noted in the analysis highlights subjects that suffered from sleep disturbances and chronic muscle and joint pain. All subjects were provided with a mattress pad to sleep on, with only half of the mattress pads connected to dedicated earth ground outdoors, while the other half was “sham” grounded. The study concluded that subjects who slept on earth grounded mattress pads saw significant improvements in sleep quality, muscle stiffness and pain, and general well-being.
How Does Earthing Work?
Earthing is completed in more ways than one, and with modern technology, it isn’t only limited to physically going outside (although according to most conducted studies, a direct connection is ideal). For a physical skin-to-earth connection, you can practice earthing by walking barefoot on natural surface elements like grass, sand, or mud. To further that electric connection, many avid earthing advocates recommend directly laying on the ground for an extended period; some even say submerging in bodies of water like a lake or ocean can provide grounding benefits. Alternatively, for those that find outdoor earthing unattainable, modern technology like grounding mats, sheets, bands, or socks are also available.
Though earthing and grounding are vastly understudied practices, past and current research points to the technique offering multiple health benefits. This video provides an excellent look into earthing and its health benefits.