“Look, a strawberry!” my daughter Scarlett exclaimed.
“Is it dirty?” I asked, assuming she was referring to a berry she found under the picnic table. (It’s not exactly a rarity for one of my kids to find a piece of food outside and eat it.)
“No, up there! In the plant!”
I looked over to the hanging plant, and sure enough, there was a lone ripe strawberry, waiting to be picked and eaten. And so we did just that.
I couldn’t believe we had successfully produced a piece of fruit — it was a great feeling. In years past, we had grown herbs like basil and cilantro, as well as tomatoes and peppers. But this was different. This particular plant was Scarlett’s idea, and seeing her excitement as we purchased it from Home Depot, watered it, and watched it grow was extremely rewarding.
So much so, in fact, that it inspired me to tackle the herb garden, which had become overrun with weeds. It’s not that I don’t have a green thumb — it’s that I’ve never really devoted much time to gardening. When you’re juggling two full-time jobs (editor and parent), it’s hard to justify the commitment it takes, especially when fresh produce can easily be purchased at a farmer’s market.
After seeing my daughter’s enthusiasm, however, I decided it was time to shelve the excuses and get down and dirty. And so, for the next hour or so, my kids and I ripped out enough weeds to fill a bucket. The garden was completely transformed, and even though we were covered in soil, I couldn’t have been happier.
Maybe it was because I got to spend quality time with my 5-year-olds that involved no bickering (which is no small miracle), or maybe it was because it meant we’d actually see the fruits of our labor with a better basil crop. Maybe, however, it was the power of grounding.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, grounding — or, as some call it, earthing — means making direct skin contact with the surface of the Earth with bare feet or hands. For years, many have believed that this simple act can enhance health and provide feelings of well-being.
Now, I realize this might sound like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, to put it mildly. But I believe there’s something to it. The night of our gardening marathon, I slept like a baby, as I always do after spending a significant amount of time going bare foot, whether it’s at the beach, or in my yard. However, as someone who practices yoga and uses books and puzzles to clear my mind, I realize I’m not completely objective.
So, naturally, I did some digging (pun intended), and found that there is science to back up the power of grounding. Sure enough, a 2015 study determined that “electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth” can help reduce inflammation, improve immune response and wound healing, and even prevent chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Other research suggests that earthing can help keep stress and cortisol levels in healthy ranges, while also improving sleep. So why haven’t more people adopted this practice? Simple — we live in houses and wear shoes, making it difficult to come into direct contact with grass, sand, or soil. But here’s the thing. We don’t always have to be inside, and we always have to cover our feet while outside.
In fact, with the weather warming up and days lasting longer, now is the perfect time to ground ourselves. And so, even if it’s just for a few minutes, I urge all of you to ditch the shoes — and your phone, for that matter — and spend some quality time with the earth.