By Naturopath Jessie Denmeade
Most of us live very busy lives, that require us to multitask and micromanage so many different aspects of life that we can become quite disconnected from our physical selves. Often, we are so in our heads that the only time we even hear our bodies is when we become too tired to function at the desired rate and need to reach for a coffee so we can keep going.
The concept of “being grounded” has taken on different forms in different cultures across time. However, the common theme is one of being present in our bodies and connected with nature and the earth, in order to be centred and balanced regardless of what is occurring around us. Taking time each day to ground helps to stabilise our mind and give our physical body an opportunity to be acknowledged and heard.
Some 20 studies to date have demonstrated wide and significant psychological improvements when the body is grounded verses non-grounded (Menigoz et al., 2019). The research clearly indicates that grounding has great potential to increase the efficacy of other modalities in improving health outcomes. In addition to the psychological benefits, “grounding” or “earthing” has been shown to reduce pain, inflammation, and stress, improve energy, blood flow and sleep, and generate a greater sense of well-being.
By evolutionary standards, our lifestyles have changed so much in a short period of time. Our physiology really hasn’t had time to adapt. When we are on-the-go all the time, our body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated. This is our ‘fight or flight’ response where our body is prepared to think and act quickly, ready to either run from predators or fight for survival. Unfortunately, our nervous system can’t always tell the difference between being stuck in traffic while late to drop the kids at school, and being under threat from a prehistoric predator. So our nervous system reacts to both of these stressors in a similar way. Unfortunately, while our sympathetic nervous system is activated and engaged, our parasympathetic nervous system is not adequately able to do its tasks – the ‘rest and digest’ part of our bodily functions. So while we might be kicking corporate goals, digestion, hormone regulation and immune function may be paying the price. The long-term implications of this could include the development of chronic diseases, psychological conditions, infertility, malabsorption and recurrent infections, to name a few.
Emerging scientific research is illustrating the positive and often overlooked benefits of direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the earth (Chevalier et al, 2012). Many people are deprived of this contact due to our modern lifestyles. The research is suggesting that this disconnect could be a major contributor to the physiological and psychological dysfunction that we see increasing in our population.
So, here are some ways to connect and get grounded:
- Walk barefoot on the ground
- Take your morning cuppa outside and watch the sunrise
- Sit in nature, close your eyes, and listen for bird calls
- Take a moment every day to drop into your body, feel for tension and consciously release it, or use progressive muscle relaxation techniques
- Go for beach walks
- Sit on the earth and take conscious breaths, developing a mindfulness practice
- Picnic by a water source on the weekend
- Meet friends for a bush or park walk instead of lunch
Grounding is a simple and natural way to support our physical and mental health, and could be an effective preventative strategy against the global epidemic of degenerative, non-communicable, inflammatory-related diseases (Sinatra et al, 2015).
Menigoz, W. Lats, T. Ely, R, Mamei, C. Melvin, G. Sinatra, D. (2019), Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research, evidence and clinical observations, Elsevier Science. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31831261/
Chevalier, G. Sinatra, S. Oschman, J. Sokal, K. Sokal, P. (2021), Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body with the Earth’s surface electrons, J Environ Public Health. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22291721/
Sinatra, S. Oschman, J. Chevalier, G. Sinatra, D. (2017), Electronic nutrition: the surprising health and healing benefits of biological grounding (Earthing), Altern Ther Health Med. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28987038/