Spring has sprung! On one hand, Spring is a season; on the other, it can be a forward-moving practice.
Spring - verb: To move or jump suddenly upward or forward, to rise, leap, move or act suddenly and swiftly.
Would you ever dream of keeping your shoes on at the beach!? No way! Likewise when it comes to a patch of soft, lush grass. Kids go barefoot more often than adults and it’s a trend we grown-ups might consider revisiting.
According to health expert David Wolfe, we need connection to the earth without insulating ourselves from our environment with shoes. Through direct contact with the earth, we can discharge nervous energy and free radicals. The earth’s natural electromagnetic forces recalibrate our circadian rhythms and that includes regulating our hormones, brainwaves, and cortisol levels. But don’t just take it from one health expert, take it from Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, Dr. Joseph Mercola, and the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in the following article: Why Walking Barefoot May Be an Essential Element of Good Health. Next time you see a child running barefoot in the grass, let it serve as your reminder to do more of the same.
In research conducted at Bristol University and University College London, scientists reveal that exposure to beneficial bacteria in the soil can cause our brain cells to create serotonin in a similar way to antidepressants! Since the bacteria boosts both our immunity AND our mental health, it has led researchers to wonder if we shouldn’t all be “spending more time playing in the dirt”. You can reap further benefits with the following equation:
Dirt + Animals = Greater Joy and Health
Various studies have shown that farm kids are healthier, but you don’t have to grow up on a farm for increased health and happiness. You just have to get in touch with a farm’s “key ingredients”: beneficial soil exposure, connecting with animals, and access to fresh food.
Since we’ve already covered the the first ingredient regarding beneficial soil exposure, let’s move on to the second ingredient: a connection to animals.
ABS news shared this Journal of Pediatrics study: “babies raised around dogs are 31% more likely to be healthy. Cats were shown to improve a baby’s health by 6%. The research suggests that exposure to pets may help children’s immune systems mature faster, with animals helping them grow antibodies to better combat infections.” Animals also decrease our stress and amplify our joy.
The third tip we can take from farm life?
Consume More Fresh Food
Research shows that having even a small backyard garden means you’ll eat five times as many vegetables, decreasing the risk factors for all kinds of diseases and boosting immunity. As anyone who has experienced ill health knows, increased health = increased joy.
Luckily, my kids adore being in the garden. Knowing the benefits they reap from digging in the soil, and seeing their increased desire and excitement to eat what they have helped to grow, I adore it all the more as well. In addition to these beneficial factors, it means we are all spending more time outdoors, in fresh air, often barefoot, and most importantly – unplugged. We all require time away from electronic devices for optimum health and now that you know what having a connection to the earth does for your circadian rhythms – what are you waiting for? Get outside … Just as soon as you are done reading this post .
Live In Wonder
As an added bonus, when we spend time outdoors we increase our chances of experiencing moments of wonder. Kids seem to happen upon these moments effortlessly, but for adults it may require some training.
You can rekindle your senses in this arena by deciding that you will look for 3 “moments of wonder” on your next outdoor excursion. Seek them, and you will find them. Often, it is my children who find them first and point them out to me. With their help, I see the magic once again that I have so often taken for granted.
When we learn to view the world in a fresh way, when we explore the new and different, it has beneficial effects on our brain health. Perhaps this explains why the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken” resonates with so many. It comes to mind whenever I’m on a nature walk, or facing a choice point in life regarding a new opportunity.
And so I will let the last stanza of the poem close this post:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
May it encourage you to get outdoors, strike out on a new path, and to move in the direction of your joy. You’ll never know where this new path could take you – It could make all the difference!