Getting back to nature is so on trend at the moment that even the Royals are doing it, a la Duchess Kate’s new garden at the Chelsea Flower Show this year. Her ‘back to nature’ themed garden pairs with her advocacy for the proven benefits the outdoors has for physical and mental health.
Nature experiences have always been hot topics, but it seems that they are becoming ever more so, with experts enthusing numerous health benefits, mental resets, and stress decreases. It might be the genuine fear of nature disappearing into the thick fog of development and capitalism. It might be that science is finally catching up with nature and realising that’s where the magic really happens. Or it could simply be that as less of us are immersed in nature on a daily basis, the more our inner wild craves a reconnect with it.
Perhaps the Rehab clinics of the future might be less about addictions, and more designed to encourage a return to nature and a discovery of the wild inside us all. Prescribed treatments for nature based health are already trending. When was the last time you walked barefoot through the grass? How often do you ask your kids to ‘please put your shoes on, there might be bindis/glass/spiders/snakes/rocks....’? When we moved here, we were obsessed about the kids wearing their gumboots at all times when they were outside. We were constantly nagging them because they seemed almost oddly drawn to being barefoot. Turns out, they were probably on to something.
We talked about forest bathing (or as we call it, Bush bathing) just recently, but have you heard about Earthing, or as it is sometimes called, Grounding? Advocates of Earthing believe that regularly putting your bare feet or skin in contact with the earth has health benefits, allowing electrons to flow freely between earth and body. They suggest that it allows contact with nature’s antioxidants, helping to neutralise and upgrade ones physiology to allow the body to repair and stabilise basic biological rhythms. Natural magic! Scientific research attributes a lot of the health benefits to simply being outside and in nature, regardless of the shoes on or off aspect, but it is an interesting concept.
Just over a year later, we are much more relaxed about the whole shoes on at all times thing, within reason, of course. And you know what? Other than an ant bite or two, nothing drastic has happened. Our girls play barefoot on the grass, in the sand and yes, even in the mud. Sometimes we even join them. Even if from a scientific standpoint we haven’t yet been able to fully explain the positive impact on human health, the indications are that there is benefit in getting up close and personal with the surface of the earth.
So my advice is to find time to get outside, shoes off, lay in the grass, play in the sand, dip your toes in the river, swim in the lake. You might just feel better for being Grounded...and whatever happens, it’s certainly not a punishment!