What Is Earthing And How Can It Make You Happier?

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how nature therapy can make you feel happier

Spring has arrived, along with the warmer weather. It inspires us to go outside. In our modern world, we spend most of our time indoors. According to a study, Americans spend 93 percent of their time in enclosed buildings and vehicles.

Our ancestors lived in the wilderness, walked barefoot upon the earth, and slept under the stars each night. Yet, in modern times, spending so much time indoors has disconnected us from the natural healing properties of the earth, which is why practices like nature therapy and earthy can help us find happiness. 

How can spending time in nature make you happier?

Nature therapy — the practice of spending time outside in nature — cultivates a state of holistic balance and equanimity. Nature can make a big difference in maintaining a healthy mind and body. Being in nature connects you to "source energy", your true identity as a spiritual being.

Earthing, a type of nature therapy, is the process of physically connecting your body to the earth in some way by having your skin touch grass, sand, a river, lake or sea — like walking barefoot in the grass or running your hands over the bark of a tree. 

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Scientific studies are beginning to find evidence that being in nature — and interacting with it — has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us reduce anxiety and increase our clarity, creativity, and our ability to connect with one another and Divine energy.

I consider spending time in nature to be one of the key elements for how to be happy and healthy.

Here are some of the key benefits of earthing and spending more time in nature:

1. It restores balance.

Discovering the health benefits of earthing, also called "grounding", is probably one of the most important medical breakthroughs of the 21 Century.

Earthing has been shown to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Boost energy
  • Lower stress by reducing cortisol
  • Improve sleep
  • Balance hormones
  • Improve circulation

The ways it works, according to the studies, is the earth has a mild negative charge. Our modern indoor life causes our body to build up a positive charge. Connecting to the earth evens out this positive charge and returns our body to a neutral state.

In the book Earthing, Dr. Stephen Sinatra presents research and personal experiences of people all over the world showing the earth naturally stabilizes our body's own electrical system, recharging and healing us.

To get the most benefits from earthing, walk barefoot or sit with your feet touching the ground for 30 minutes. You can also swim in the ocean which is high in the minerals needed to conduct the electricity. Any direct contact with your skin will work.

If you are gardening you can kneel on the ground with your bare skin. To get results, you must have direct sustained skin contact. Laying in the grass at the park will work too. I like to meditate while sitting on the sand, rocks, or grass.

2. It reduces stress.

I know from experience that walking in the woods calms me down. After a good hike, I feel relaxed and centered.

Any physical activity reduces the stress hormone cortisol but research now shows being in nature has an even greater impact. The sights and sounds of nature have a soothing effect on your nervous system further reducing the fight or flight response.

One recent experiment conducted in Japan showed participants who walked in forests had significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (indicating more relaxation and less stress), and reported better moods and less anxiety, than those who walked in urban settings.

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3. It relieves mental fatigue and increases creativity.

In today’s world, there is constant stimulation from technology. This can lead to mental fatigue and burn out. We need something to get us back to a normal healthy state.

Researcher David Strayer shows that spending time in nature — without digital devices — allows the brain to rest and restore.

A 2012 study showed that hikers on a four-day backpacking trip could solve significantly more puzzles requiring creativity when compared to a control group of people waiting to take the same hike, in fact, 47 percent more.

Strayer says, "Now we are seeing changes in the brain and changes in the body that suggest we are physically and mentally more healthy when we are interacting with nature."

4. It makes you feel more alive.

It’s not surprising that being outside makes you feel more alive. The natural environment is rich in prana, the life force that sustains all life. Breathing fresh, natural clean air allows you to absorb more prana. Breathing in prana energizes your system.

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Prana is also in the trees, flowers, rocks, sand, water and the star-filled sky. Spending time outside connects you to this life-restoring current that flows through all of nature.

5. It helps you feel happier.

Walking on the beach or in the woods always makes me happier and gives me a sense of joy. Part of it is the reduction of stress but there may be more to it.

Gregory Bratman of Stanford University found evidence that nature may impact our mood by focusing our attention on positive things. In one 2015 study, he and his colleagues randomly assigned 60 participants to a 50-minute walk in either a natural setting (oak woodlands) or an urban setting (along a four-lane road).

Before and after the walk, the participants were assessed on their emotional state and on cognitive measures, such as how well they could perform tasks requiring short-term memory.

Results showed that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety and focused less on negative aspects of themselves and their life. They experienced more positive emotions, compared to to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks.

In addition, studies have shown that being in nature relieves symptoms of depression (i.e. clinical and manic depression/bipolar disorder) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and also stabilizes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Nature therapy is always available to you. Make a commitment to get outside in nature every day.

It does its magic automatically. No effort required. Isn't that great?!

Appreciate your body walking on this beautiful planet. Your body is an incredible gift that connects you to the magnificent world we live in.

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Ingrid DeHart is a Certified Nutrition Coach and EFT Practitioner, Food Blogger, formerly a Natural Foods Chef and Restaurant Owner. Sign up for her weekly e-mail newsletter of recipes and tips on eating well, staying healthy, and enjoying your wonderful life.

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This article was originally published at Eat Well Enjoy Life. Reprinted with permission from the author.