Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan of getting in touch with Mother Nature via ‘Earthing’. Writer Shona Hendley tried it for seven days straight, with some surprising results (and the odd ant bite).
Using nature to improve health and wellbeing isn’t a new concept but it’s definitely one that has been gaining popularity in recent years.
From camping or glamping in mother nature, to Forest Therapy, these nature immersive wellness practices have a plethora of followers who, often loudly, sing their praises. But despite this, up until recently I wasn’t one of them.
While distantly respectful of these practices, it wasn’t until the last week that I actually became intrigued in one, the wellness experience of ‘Earthing’.
So, how does Earthing work?
You see, in my Goop Lab fandom I found myself reading an article on Gwyneth Paltrow where her love for the practice was unearthed (forgive the pun), so I too decided to look into it – beginning with the question – what on earth is Earthing?
“Earthing or being ‘grounded’ is the process of placing your bare feet or skin in direct contact with the earth whereby electrons (from the earth) are taken up into the body, Linda McNair, founder of Bare Foot Healing, told body+soul.
Her website, Barefoot Healing explains the science behind it. “The Earth is a conductor or free electrons and so are all living things on the planet, including us. The body is composed of mostly of water and minerals which in combination are excellent conductors of electrons from the Earth providing there is direct skin contact or some other conductive channel for them to flow through.”
To ‘Earth’ effectively you must be barefoot, or have direct skin contact on to a ‘natural earth source’ – so grass, sand, dirt or even plain concrete, for a minimum of 30 minutes.
You can sit, stand, garden, exercise (swimming in the ocean or a lake also counts) – what you do, doesn’t really matter as long as the flow of electrons can occur between the earth surface and your skin.
There are also Earthing products you can purchase if you are time poor or suffer with mobility issues, including carbonated sleep mats which fit underneath your fitted sheet and feet mats for your computer work station.
What are the benefits of earthing?
Earthing devotees, like Linda and Gwyneth, say that the process can provide a whole host of health benefits, including:
- Defusing the cause of inflammation
- Reduce or eliminate chronic pain
- Improve sleep
- Increase energy and vitality
- Lower stress and promote calmness in the body
- Normalise the body’s biological rhythms
- Thin the blood and improve blood pressure and flow
- Relieve muscle tension and headaches
- Lessen hormonal and menstrual symptoms
- Dramatically speeds healing time and can help prevent bedsores
- Reduce or eliminate jet lag
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Since beginning Earthing in 2011, using an Earthing sheet in her bed, Linda says that her chronic upper back pain and asthma, vanished, and her anxiety has reduced considerably.
“I began noticing its benefits after three months of daily practice, when I noticed my back pain had disappeared,” she told body+soul.
While Linda’s account and the list of benefits seem impressive, to say I was still a little sceptical that standing barefoot in my backyard for 30 minutes could have this effect would have been an epic understatement.
But as they say – “you can’t knock it until you try it,” so that’s exactly what I decided to do – try it that is.
I tried Earthing for one week and this is how it went.
After a loooong day at work I headed outside for a lazy Earthing experience. It involved me sitting in the backyard, bare feet firmly planted onto the grass, while I read my book for 30 minutes.
In all honesty, it was actually pretty relaxing.
The time went quickly, it was peaceful, quiet and I got to have some ‘me time.’ I even managed to successfully turn several pages of my book during daylight hours, which as a mum of two young children, almost never happens.
The only issue I had was the giant ant which seemed to believe my foot was a food source.
Today after work, instead of sitting on the couch and watching the TV with my children (my Friday rite of passage) I herded them and myself outside to Earth.
As they ran around on the grass sans shoes, I walked after them (avoiding ants).
The weekend had officially arrived and because I live inland, I thought how about a road trip to get my whole family involved in this Earthing experience with me? And what better destination than the coast?
We drove the 1.5 hours to the Great Ocean Road and spent hours walking along the sand, including one stop at the famous shipwreck beach, Loch Ard Gorge, where my children especially immersed themselves in the Earthing experience.
Back at home, I spent hours of my Sunday afternoon walking around my property barefoot and relaxing in the autumn sun.
This time because my human family members were otherwise occupied, I was joined by my other children, my three goats who enjoyed some human company (and at one point our rose bush).
As the week progressed I (surprisingly) found myself looking forward to going outside to Earth and while I don’t know whether this was due to the electrons from the earth’s surface, or simply the fresh air, vitamin D, nature and time to myself to just ‘be’, what I do know is that I felt much more relaxed, calmer and generally in a much happier mood.
So, maybe Gweny (and Linda) are onto something with this Earthing thing?