5/16/17

This week's blog: Try grounding for good health!

By Kiley Owen, PA-C

Grounded is a good thing.

As a kid, the term "grounded" always carried the negative connotation of lost freedom and of being stuck.

But if you think about it, "grounded" also means to be firmly fixed or establishedwell-balancedsensiblestable, and unpretentious. Nice attributes to have!

Doing vs. being

Often we hear things like you can do anything, and the sky is the limit. We're encouraged to strive and hustle, often to the point of exhaustion and burnout.

Using our gifts and recognizing our potential are good things. Yet there's also something to be said for the humble benefits of strong roots and connection.

Soaring involves thinking and doing, while grounding is more about sensing and being present in the moment (a.k.a. mindfulness).   

Physically grounding (and hippie tendencies)

Grounding (also called earthing) means to physically connect with the earth.

At this point you might be thinking, "Oh no, this is taking a turn into hippie territory." 

While I'll admit, I do have a little hippie in me (my husband affectionately refers to me as "Moonbeam" when he's calling me out on it), I promise not to get too woo-woo in this post. :) 

Grounding simply means to connect your physical body with the earth in some way. This can be done by going barefoot outside or by gardening. 

Simple enough, right? 

Health benefits

The simple, natural activity of grounding has been shown to help with conditions such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. In fact, a recent TIME Special Edition entitled Mindfulness: The New Science of Health and Happiness even talks about its health benefits.   

Some theorize that grounding/earthing causes our bodies to conduct the earth's energy. (Of note, rubber-soled shoes are insulators, preventing such conduction.) This conduction is theorized to act as an antioxidant and decrease inflammation in the body. 

Honestly, I don't know about all that. (But it sounds cool!)

It just feels right. 

What I do know is that grounding just feels good, kinda like how warm sunshine can give you goosebumps. It feels good to let my feet "breathe" and feel different textures. It's like my feet are saying, "Thank you for letting me out of those suffocating socks and shoes! I want to sense the world, too!"

Walking barefoot reminds me of summertime as a kid, in rural northwestern Kansas. In those days, shoes didn't cross my mind until I encountered hot pavement, stepped on a sticker, or had to go into a store. Otherwise, there was an abundance of grass, soil, sand, and water for my feet to enjoy.

It was a simple, vibrant time—one that I can revisit by simply kicking off my shoes, walking outside, and being present in the moment. 

Give it a try!

Has it been a while since you walked around barefoot or played in the dirt? Try it out! See how something as simple as touching the earth has the power to improve your sense of well-being. 

Note: Please consider your health history, and use caution if you are diabetic or have other health conditions involving neuropathy (impaired sensation), poor perfusion (decreased blood flow), or compromised healing. 

Kiley Owen is a physician assistant, blogger and preventive health enthusiast. This post — along with helpful links to other resources — originally appeared on her blog, makinghealthapriority.com.