Take Time Out for Nature
Taking time out for nature is the theme of this year's Earth Hour campaign. Earth Hour famously started as a lights out event right here in Sydney, Australia in 2007. The initial grassroots movement saw Sydneysiders turn off their lights for an hour to encourage people to take action on climate change and spark conversations for ways to protect our planet. Since then, Earth Hour has grown to be a global movement with millions of supporters in more than 185 countries.
Earth Hour 2023 will be held on Saturday March 25, and the theme of 'Time Out for Nature' encourages us to reflect on the incredible benefits that nature provides us. By spending more time in nature, we learn to appreciate not only the beauty of nature but the positive effects we can experience by being immersed within it.
Modern society, the lure of devices and the increasing demands of work mean that we are more disconnected than ever before from our natural surroundings. Humans tend to view themselves as above, and separate to, nature and not a part of it. It is only by respecting nature and our place within it, that we find the desire to protect the natural world around us and save our planet.
The Many Wonderful Benefits of Nature
While the positive effects of nature on our mental and physical health have long-been appreciated and known by indigenous and native communities, most of the modern industrialised world is just starting to re-learn the importance of nature connection. Many recent studies, including this 2019 study in nature.com, have researched the link between time spent in nature, and mental and physical well-being. Spending at least two hours per week immersed in nature is reported to have positive benefits on our overall health. There is a rise of so-called 'nature prescriptions' or 'green prescriptions', especially after the pandemic, in which doctors include time in nature as part of the care plan for patients suffering with mental health issues and chronic disease.
The reasons for this appear to be multi-fold. Being outdoors in nature increases our exposure to natural light, which helps to regulate our circadian rhythm. It also allows us increased exposure to Vitamin D from sunlight, an essential vitamin which protects our bone health, helps control infections, supports our immune system, reduces inflammation and, studies show, may even help to improve symptoms of depression.
Studies have also looked at the calming effect of nature on our overall mental well-being and as a way to reduce anxiety and depression, with one study finding that exposure to nature promotes recovery from stress by lowering amygdala activity.
The Benefits of Earthing in Nature
Another benefit of being outside in nature, and one that we are particularly fond of here at Barefoot Healing, is the ability to connect to the Earth's energy and ground yourself. Grounding - or earthing - allows us to reconnect with the negatively charged electrons on the surface of the Earth which helps to stabilise and resynchronise our natural biological state, resulting in reduced pain and inflammation, improved sleep, decreased stress, increased energy and much more.
Grounding outside is as simple as kicking off your shoes and socks and walking or sitting barefoot on the ground. 30 - 40 minutes per day is recommended. For those times that we can't be outside in nature, there is a range of indoor earthing products that will deliver the same benefits.
Ways to Take Time Out for Nature
To honour this year's Earth Hour theme, here are some fun ways to take time out for nature this weekend, with some extra tips on including some outdoor earthing:
1. Go for a bush walk
Explore somewhere new in your local area and spend time away from devices and instead surround yourself with trees, babbling waterways, birdsong and natural landscapes.
Earthing tip: if the terrain isn't suitable for a barefoot walk, consider some grounded footwear to keep you grounded while also protecting your feet. At the end of the walk, find a beautiful spot to sit, rest and hydrate. Kick off your shoes and rest your bare feet on the ground.
2. Get out into the garden
With the slightly cooler weather, Autumn is the ideal time to get out into the garden. Whether it's a quick spruce and tidy or some seasonal planting, the meditative joy of time well spent in the garden can not be overestimated
Earthing tip: get your hands dirty or wander around the lawn barefoot
3. Go for a swim
Even though Summer is over, the water is still a beautiful temperature this time of year. Hit your local beach, river or lake (or wherever you can swim safely in your local area) and immerse yourself in the best that nature has to offer
Earthing tip: the ocean, with its abundance of salt and minerals, is the best body of water for grounding. Rivers and lakes, while less abundant in salts and minerals will still provide a great earthing solution. Whether it's a shoreline paddle or a fully immersed swim, you'll be soaking up the benefits of earthing
4. A family game at the local beach or park
Involve the whole family in a fun game of beach cricket, soccer, rounders or tip. You'll benefit not only from being outdoors in nature, but also from physical exercise and some valuable family bonding time.
Earthing tip: simply ask everyone to kick off their shoes and turn the game into a barefoot activity
5. Enjoy some R&R in a local beauty spot
If a little peace and quiet is more your thing, grab a book, picnic rug, bottle of water and a healthy snack and head to a nearby beauty spot for a couple of hours of rest and relaxation.
Earthing tip: lie on the ground with at least one part of your body in direct contact with the Earth's surface to benefit from some grounding time