Earthing: The Hippie Thing I Do That Makes Me Feel Great

I first heard about earthing (sometimes called grounding, and not the same thing as spiritual grounding) years ago, and I will admit that I 100% thought that this idea was trash. Earth’s electrons? Living matrix? Shut the front door.

But then, one particularly stressful day, I tried it. I left my computer, my phone, and my 99 problems inside, and I walked outside my back door on my lunch break. I removed my socks, stepped out onto the grass and...I just stood there. For five minutes or so, till my eyes adjusted to the sunlight (was my house really such a dark cave?) and my chest sort of unclenched, and I realized I wasn’t really breathing before.

I went back inside and finished my day, but with an aura of peace around me. I felt the same kind of high people say they get from running or meditation; I felt amazing!

Outside EscapePhoto by Shelby Deeter

What Science Says About Earthing:

It would be easy to write off my earthing high as a placebo effect, but earthing has actually been found to reduce inflammation, help with sleep at night, and ease chronic pain. While most of the scientific studies conducted so far are small, there are enough to lead us to believe there’s a ton of possibility here!

Here’s the science of earthing: humans are bioelectric entities that tend to build up positive charges. The earth carries its own massive electric charge--and it’s negative. When we connect directly to the earth via our skin or electricity-conducting metal, our excess positive electrical charge is balanced by the earth’s massive negative charge.

And here’s the ancient wisdom behind earthing: up until recently, almost everyone lived close to the earth. We didn’t have electricity-stopping rubber soles on our shoes, or houses or apartments built far from the earth on top of charge-dampening concrete. We were deeply connected to the earth, and now we’re not; earthing is a way to revive that connection again. 

concrete shoes walkingPhoto by Elizabeth French

How to Start Practicing Earthing:

Nobody knows for sure how much you should earth or, truly, how much of a difference it can make for pain, mood, and other things. In most of the studies mentioned above, participants wore grounding patches daily or used grounding mats or sheets (more on those below). I haven’t tried devices yet, but I do try to get outside barefoot as often as I can.Water GroundingPhoto by Anelya Okapova

Here are some ideas for earthing, and some ways to get the benefits of earthing even during the winter:

  • Standing on the earth in your bare feet feels delicious, but yoga on the bare grass feels even better! You can also lie down on the grass.
  • If you can’t get to the earth, you can try grounding patches, sheets, or mats. They work by physically connecting you to a wire that connects to a metal rod placed outside in the ground. Most scientific studies to date use grounding patches or mats!
  • Swimming in the ocean may be even better than making direct contact with the earth because of how conductive water is.
  • If you can’t swim in the ocean or take your shoes off outside, you can try taking a bath in super salty water. Not the same thing as earthing--but it feels really great and you may experience similar benefits!
Sarah Guerrero
Sarah Guerrero is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She has a degree in international business from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and writes about sustainable business practices and ethical living.