Ahhhhh…..That feeling of finally opening the hotel room door, or arriving at your family’s house after a long haul of traveling.
Being on the road is challenging for the body. Even once you reach your final destination and the anxieties of travel settle down, your system can still feel “up in the air”. Symptoms from jet lag (such as digestion issues, swelling of the feet/legs, dehydration, lack of sleep, to just utter exhaustion) can be quick to set in.
Is there something you can do to prevent jet lag before it begins? Is there something you can do to mitigate that feeling of lethargy and start your trip with vibrant energy instead?
Yes! It’s called earthing, or “grounding”, and it is exactly as it sounds: touching the ground with your bare feet or hands and allowing the natural energy that the living, moving earth supplies to give you more of the same.
How does it work?
The earth, the water, and all the other elements within it are rich sources of electrons that have a negative charge (electrical potential). When the skin of our body comes into direct contact with this negative charge, we receive the same electrical potential as our planet. Most people do not take direct contact with the Earth seriously enough even though it can contribute to assisting with healing anxiety, tension, chronic fatigue, and other “dis-ease”.
Does grounding really work?
Well, let’s think logically for a moment. How much less stress do you feel walking a beach versus walking through a shopping mall? How different is your anxiety level, hiking through the forest versus hiking up and down escalators in a Las Vegas casino? How much better do you sleep when you are camping versus on the 22nd floor of a high-rise hotel? How much more peaceful do you feel standing at the edge of a calm lake, versus gazing at the traffic jam in front of you? Why also do we insist on beach vacations, heading to the mountains to ski, and getting our tents out in nature for vacation to de-stress? I rest my case. We instinctually know we need the earth.
Here’s just a few ways “earthing” has been shown to benefit us:
- Blood glucose improvement in diabetic patients
- Reduces joint and muscle pain
- Reduction in overall stress and tension
- Positive moods
- Improvement in heart rate variability
- Enhanced immune function
The 2016 study supporting these can be found here.
When it comes to planes, trains, automobiles, being stuck in a stuffy airport, trapped in a hotel room, surrounded by wi-fi signals in airplanes and big cities, cell phone tower radiation, and imbalances in circadian rhythm from crossing time zones, it is no wonder that we sometimes need a vacation from our vacation. To help you find a vacation within your vacation, here are some simple stretches combined with some grounding techniques to help you prevent or survive jet leg with more energy and more gusto than any trip you’ve taken before.
Tips to consider upon arrival to your hotel or place of lodging:
- Locate the nearest grassy area and place your bare feet on it.
- Find a tree and physically hug a tree.
- Take a walk on sand or near water preferably barefoot if possible.
- Stand on concrete rather than pavement if no grass is available and preferably in the sun.
In all these situations, take a deep breath and let your disconnected self reconnect with the earth’s energy. Then incorporate the next 6 moves on that surface you have found.
Six Destination Earthing Sensation Stretches
1. Grounding Squat with Twist
How: Open the feet wide apart and if needed, turn the feet out slightly. Squat as deeply as you can, allowing gravity to pull the hips down towards the earth. Place the left hand on the earth in front of the left foot and reach the right arm to the sky, twisting the heart open to the right. Breathe for 3- 5 breaths grounding your feet and hands into the earth and then switch sides.
2. Grounding Lateral Lunge
How: Coming up slightly out of the squat, widen your stance even more, grounding through both feet, and shift your hips over to the right, while lengthening the left leg long, sitting your hips over your right heel. Reach your arms out in front of you and drape towards the earth or reach the left arm up towards the sky. Hold here for 3-5 deep breaths before transitioning over to the other side.
3. Grounding Sphinx
How: If you’ve ever noticed the actual sphinx in Egypt, they are lying on their belly’s, propped up on the elbows looking towards the sun. This is exactly what you can do to really balance out your energy and get as close to the earth’s natural flow of electrons as possible. Stay there for 3-5 breaths and allow your body to settle deep into the earth.
4. Grounding Gate Pose
How: Start in a low lunge with the right leg forward and the left knee down. Rotate the hips and body open towards the left, and bend the back knee to comfortably turn the shin behind you and ground it down. With the heart wide open to the left, place the right hand on the earth inside your right foot, and extend the left arm to the sky. For more sensation, try a bind by reaching for the hands behind your back. Hold here for 3-5 breaths and switch to the other side.
5. Grounding Plank
How: Begin sitting on your hips with legs long and hands resting on the earth behind you. Press feet and hands into the earth and look towards the sky as you lift the hips into a reverse plank. Inhale lift, exhale lower the hips. Move with your breath and aim to look towards the sun (not at it, of course) and repeat for 3-5 breaths.
6. Grounded Heart-Opening Seat
How: Make your way to a comfortable seat and interlace your hands behind your head. Sit tall and noble, grounding your sit bones into the earth, and lengthening up through your spine. Press your heart forward as you draw your elbows wide and back. Gaze towards the sky and feel the wonderful expansion across the chest, breathing 3-5 deep breaths.