We all experience stress at some point in our lives. Stress is necessary in order to survive, and how our caveman predecessors fed themselves and stayed alive from the animal chasing them that was trying to do the same. Excessive stress, however, can lead to changes in our behavior, emotional and physical well being that may not benefit us for survival. In fact, it may make our day to day lives more challenging to endure by producing fear, anxiety, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, health issues, and even pain.
Recognizing stress or factors that may cause stress can be the first step in reducing it. Some people have a difficult time identifying things in their lives that may be causing the stress, but feel out of sorts, not themselves or simply uncentered.
Grounding can be a simple and effective way to help in reducing stress and feeling more centered. Being grounded can mean a few different things, but most commonly can mean either feeling centered or fully present in your body, or physically feeling connected to the earth. Ever wonder why it feels so good to walk barefoot on the beach or feel grass between your toes? In our culture it is rare that we ever have a direct connection with the earth, without the soles of our shoes or a concrete sidewalk acting as a barrier between us and the earth.
The earth has a subtle natural electric charge to it, kind of like a giant battery. Our body produces free radicals that carry a charge to them, which over time can lead to chronic inflammation or contribute to other chronic conditions. With the earth having an unlimited supply of free electrons, research suggests physically being grounded can enable these free electrons to spread over and into the body, where they can have antioxidant effects.
Grounding research has shown improvements in decreasing levels of inflammation and pain, improving sleep quality, and reducing stress levels. It has also been shown to improve circulation, which can allow increased oxygen and nutrients to flow to tissues and even improve the speed of wound healing. Grounding also has shown to improve emotional health by reducing irritability, anxiety, tension or stress.
Beach vacations are not the only way you can achieve a more grounded state. The simplest way to ground is to walk or stand barefoot in the grass, sand, or dirt in your backyard. Researchers recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of direct contact per day, if possible, in order to have significant health benefits. There are also products available such as mats, sheets or patches that function by tapping into the grounding wire out of a standard outlet. These resources can provide the benefit of grounding, even for those that spend most of their day behind a desk or don’t have the opportunity to step outside.
Next time you find yourself enjoying the outdoors, kick your shoes off and get some grounding in. It may do more for your physical and emotional health than you realize!