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Melissa Hutsell is an award-winning freelance journalist with a deep rooted passion for both community and international journalism. She was born and raised in Northern California, and has lived, studied, worked, and traveled in more 20 different countries. Melissa holds a Master's degree in Global Journalism from City University London, as well as degrees in Journalism and Globalization from Humboldt State University. Though she covers various topics as both a writer and editor, she specializes in business and cannabis journalism.
As a child, running barefoot through the yard felt freeing. These experiences become fewer and further between as we age. It isn’t inconceivable that, in adulthood, we can go months without physical contact with the natural world.
A new health trend – called grounding or earthing – highlights the potential health benefits of direct contact with the earth. The idea, the article reports, “is humans evolved in direct contact with the earth’s subtle electric charge, but have lost that sustained connection thanks to inventions such as buildings, furniture and shoes with insulated synthetic soles.” Like Japanese forest bathing or Nordic Hygge, earthing encourages people to re-connect with nature.
Research shows there are many health benefits to being in the outdoors. Electricity is one of them, explained author Carrie Dennett.
Everything is made up of atoms, Dennett writes. Atoms contain negatively and positively charged protons and electrons, making them neutral. “When an atom has an unpaired electron, it becomes a “free radical” with a positive charge, […],” she adds. Free radicals are known to cause damage to cells, which can cause chronic inflammation, and other diseases like cancer.
“In this case, “positive” is not a good thing,” Dennett continues.
That’s where grounding comes into play: The earth’s surface emits a negative charge, which is “constantly generating electrons that could neutralize free radicals, acting as antioxidants,” she reports.
Some studies suggest the act may also help regulate our autonomic nervous system, and help keep our bodies synchronized with the day/night cycles (which can mean better sleep).
Although more research is needed on grounding/earthing, getting outside and re-connecting with nature (whether that’s gardening, or lying in the grass) is proven to be beneficial for human health.