Grounding: what on earth is it?


You may have heard of grounding, also known as earthing, and assume it’s a New Age fad beloved of GOOP acolytes. Although there are few studies, some research has found it benefits inflammation, sleep, immune response, heart disease, chronic pain, wound healing and mood.

But what on earth is grounding - and how easy is it to do?

What is grounding?

Grounding is a therapeutic and ecological technique that involves connecting with the earth - ie walking barefoot, sleeping outdoors, purchasing some ‘conductive products’ such as earthing sheets, mats, bands, socks and patches.

Although it sounds a bit basic, some researchers have been looking at the positive benefits of direct physical contact to the vast supply of electrons on the earth’s surface. The theory is that the earth’s electrons interact and regulate the electrical conductivity between our cells, resetting our internal systems, from the nervous to the immune, and our circadian rhythms.

In truth, we don’t know how – or if - our cells communicate, but there is a field of Functional and Alternative Medicine that believes in a Living Matrix, an intricate web of factors including electrical conductivity between living cells that affects and regulates our health. People who believe this generally talk about how we used to walk barefoot and now we wear rubber-soled shoes and have asthma - draw your own conclusions.

How do we do it?

Whether you believe, or even understand, the science or not, you might like the general idea of reconnecting witth the earth and nature. Here are some of the ways you can try grounding, or earthing, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Walk barefoot

It sounds like the simplest thing, but when was the last time you ran barefoot across a lawn or hot-footed it across the beach without sandals or sea shoes on? Our anxiety about treading on horrible things might have got the better of us over the years but go on – kick off your flip-flops and connect.

Lie on the ground

Let go of your lounger-attachment and lay on the grass, or on earth if you really want to get down and dirty. Make mud angels. Or just lie under a tree with a good book.

Do outdoor yoga and meditation

Surely the best way to ground yourself is do a tree pose next to a tree, or practice any yoga or meditation outdoors on the ground, either directly skin to earth or with a grounding mat, if you must.

Go wild-swimming

According to some grounding experts, water can also be used for grounding – although obviously they don’t mean baths or municipal swimming pools. Wild swimming has become hugely popular and a veritable wellbeing industry lately, even if it was originally an act of ecological defiance. Grounding might explain some of the many health benefits the headlines extoll. So, grab your Dry Robe and head for your nearest beach or lake. 

Create a conductor

If you can’t get outside, some grounding advocates suggest planting a metal rod outside in the earth and attaching it to our body via a long wire. We can’t see anything going wrong there…

Spas to ground yourself in

Lifehouse Spa, Essex

This modern health spa is set among the dreamily romantic English Heritage Listed Thorpe Hall Gardens, 12 acres (within 120 acres of grounds) designed by Lady Byng almost 100 years ago. Wander along woodland paths lined with snowdrops or bluebells in season, over bridges, through sunken gardens and rest beside one of many lakes and watch the wildlife. Slip off your shoes and feel the grass between your pampered toes.

Rudding Park, Yorkshire

Although the Roof Top spa is about as far away from the ground as you can get, there are 300 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland to get your shinrin-yoku (Japanese for forest bathing) fix. Guests can follow the Kitchen Garden map to identify the ingredients.

Herb House at Lime Wood, New Forest

It’s all about the forest at Herb House, with forest walks, pavilions and forest lodges in the grounds for guests who totally want to escape into nature. The gardens, which also boast a lake with an island, are designed to complement the arboreal setting, with the focus on sustainable living and bringing the outside in.

The Coach House at Beaverbrook, Surrey

Woodland and garden walks through the Beaverbrook Estate have been designed to allow you to meander through areas of outstanding beauty. Tranquil trails are lined with healing medicinal herbs and plants: pause and inhale the scents for a natural aromatherapy experience. Wandering through the woods has lots of health benefits: one study showed chemicals released by trees, phytoncides, could have an antimicrobial effect and boost our immune system.

South Lodge, Sussex

Wild swimming is all the rage but if you are not quite ready to fling yourself into ice-cold lakes, slimy rivers or tumultuous seas in Britain, why not take inspiration from the wild swimming pool at South Lodge. This 18-metre outdoor pool is naturally filtered and mildly warmed, set within South Lodge’s luxuriously modern spa garden. 

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  • Author

    Savant Spy

  • Age 46 (and now reversing)
  • Skin type Oily/sensitive

Spa Likes

"Clever, inspiring design, sublime views, a vast, clean and empty pool, solitary relaxation areas to read, write or commune with my muse."

Spa Dislikes

"Small talk, discussions about spirituality or astrology, any products containing tea tree oil or aloe (sadly am allergic), busy pools where you can’t do laps."