Seven years ago Iona Russell was diagnosed with clinical depression and was stressed out by working long hours in court.
She was sick and tired of being around her nine-year-old son and found the only way to relieve her fear by taking off her shoes and walking barefoot through her garden.
It may sound bizarre, but Iona is one of a growing number of women who say that this helps them relax and even succeed, personally and professionally.
Proponents claim walking barefoot outside, known as & # 39; grounding & # 39 ;, meaning that negatively charged electrons in the ground can neutralize positive particles in our bodies that threaten our health. However, this has little scientific support.
Iona Russell (left) was diagnosed with clinical depression and was stressed out seven years ago by working long hours in court
Perhaps predictably, Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan, and her wellness site Goop suggests that grounding can relieve the symptoms of arthritis, insomnia and depression.
The wellness industry has seized the trend and brings an abundance of products to the market that claim to be indoors & # 39; grounded & # 39; by creating a negatively charged environment – from mats and bedding to wristbands, plasters and conductive footwear.
Last week actress Olivia Colman raised her eyebrows by accepting a barefoot prize after she had dumped the red heels she wore for the London ceremony.
Although she may have had enough of wearing uncomfortable heels, should the rest of us send our shoes to the closet more often?
Iona, 48, thinks so. & # 39; Thanks to grounding, I have more control and am no longer like & # 39; n & # 39; shouty & # 39; mother, & # 39; she says. & # 39; My ex-husband even started calling me Zen Iona. Grounding gave me a peaceful feeling and it meant that I didn't respond like I did at home and at work. & # 39;
Iona, who is single and lives in Edinburgh, practices grounding in her garden. & # 39; I feel soothed by the earth under my feet & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; I take a deep breath in and out and imagine the air moving from my head to my soles. Although it can be cold, I am lucky to have a large garden with 200-year-old trees. & # 39;
Iona, who is now a life coach, adds: & # 39; When I coach in London, I often go to Holland Park, take off my shoes and walk barefoot. It's like charging your batteries. I am often asked what I do and, when I explain it, I usually become a & # 39; hippie & # 39; called!
& # 39; One of my favorite pastimes is walking barefoot around a labyrinth. The earth and energy feel different every time. One of my favorites is near the ocean on the west coast of Scotland.
Stephanie Johnson (photo), 31, mentions & # 39; grounds & # 39; by keeping her anxiety at bay during the last months of her pregnancy
& # 39; The insights you get are amazing. If I ask a question and walk without distraction, the answer always comes through. & # 39;
Grounding has been around for more than 100 years. The benefits were first praised by German back-to-nature movements in the 19th century.
In the 1920s, American doctors explored the practice of sleeping while being grounded & # 39; grounded & # 39; were, after they discovered that patients with insomnia lay on the floor, or used copper wires attached to grounded tubes, to connect to the ground & # 39; & # 39 ;. They believed that the air strikes prevented them from sleeping.
Now some people are sleeping with earthing wristbands, which Iona tried. & # 39; I liked the idea of the bands & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; They are made of fabric and a snap button connects to a bobbin that can be & # 39; grounded by connecting it to electricity. But I couldn't get along with them. I found them strange to wear in bed.
& # 39; I have a friend who has set up a complex earthing system from his bed, connected to a pole in the earth outside. But I have decided to just ground by walking on the grass. I look at the clouds while I am attracted to the earth. I take a deep breath and let Mother Nature do her work. & # 39;
Most modern devotees seem to agree that walking outside is the most effective method on a daily basis. And although there is no scientific judgment about the influence of negatively charged particles, there are mental health benefits if you spend time outside.
The NHS and mental health care Mind recommends grounding techniques, such as walks, to help people deal with flashbacks, nightmares or PTSD – although bare feet are optional.
Psychologist Jo Hemming says: “Walking outside (barefoot, if you want) is one of the many strategies that we recommend to ground yourself.
& Others are stroking a soft, furry blanket or pet, splashing cold water on your face or holding a hot drink and being aware of the taste. These sensations connect you with the here and now.
& # 39; Studies show that grounding promotes a reduction in anxiety and increases well-being and resilience. However, exercise and repetition are essential because it is not a cure for the night. & # 39;
Some wellness companies have encouraged the idea that to buy specially designed products, we must purchase specially designed products. But with a price that costs no less than £ 130, it is no wonder that many dismiss it as hokum.
GP and health expert Dr. Jeff Foster proposes the & # 39; pseudo-science & # 39; behind these items in question. & # 39; Suppose these products are grounded by us. At what time do they become more or less effective? Do we have to wear shoes or socks? They don't make any sense at all, & he says.
He also believes that the wellness industry has a poor understanding of why grounding works. & # 39; What makes sense is that we get out in nature & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; When we are out of the office and away from telephones and social media, it is almost meditative. Of course we are going to feel better.
& # 39; It has nothing to do with the theories behind positive or negative charges in the body.
Former management consultant Lauren Chiren (center), has grounded for two years and even walks barefoot in the snow
& # 39; Frustrating is that some patients bring it up as something that they try when drugs don't work. They will spend a fortune on seeing someone and then buying their paraphernalia. But I compare it to homeopathy – as soon as they begin to feel better, they will claim that that is the reason, confusing correlation with causal relationship. & # 39;
However, such views do not scare women, such as former management consultant Lauren Chiren, who has been on the ground for two years. She even walks barefoot in the snow. & # 39; I have built up my tolerance for it – icy circumstances take some getting used to & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; Walking barefoot is an extension of who I am now and it keeps me calm. & # 39;
Lauren, 50, started to grind when she went through the menopause. & # 39; It was a wake-up call for me to take better care of myself. For a while the symptoms were overwhelming. Grounding is one of the ways I take care of myself.
& # 39; I acknowledged that this is something that I have always done. I like to be outside barefoot and automatically take off my shoes. As a child my parents struggled to attract me. & # 39;
Lauren, a coach in transition, walks barefoot in her garden for at least ten minutes every morning and evening.
& # 39; In the summer I spend as many bare feet as possible outdoors. I read and listen to podcasts & # 39 ;, she says.
& # 39; A few years ago I had a quiet place at work. Instead of panicking, I built a vegetarian patch. My son was amused and saw how I created raised beds barefoot.
& # 39; Laying my hands on the ground and working with the soil and seeds gave me a sense of purpose. It put everything in perspective. & # 39;
Professional mentor Suzie Parkus works with stressed, successful women. She says: & # 39; There is an assumption in the workplace that you can handle anything that is thrown at you. But because of the pressure of life, relationships, and work, many of us don't feel in touch with the natural world.
& # 39; With grounding, peace will wash over you and you will feel the calming effects of being in nature. & # 39;
Meanwhile, with a background in HR, Stephanie Johnson began grounding at the university. & # 39; I started doing it regularly when I was 24 and experiencing a difficult relationship & # 39 ;, she says.
& # 39; Until then my relaxation method had taken a bottle of wine. But I taught this strategy as part of my work in HR and one day it dawned on me – I had to do it too.
Stephanie, 31, provides the ground to keep her anxiety at bay in the last months of her pregnancy. She was tired at work and her partner was fired.
& # 39; Grounding helps me lead my thoughts away from one area and leads me to the present moment & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; My breath will become longer and sometimes I use visual images to meditate. I will imagine that I am in my favorite forest, showing the trees and flowers.
& # 39; When I feel the earth or grass between my toes, it is relaxing. I drag my feet across the lawn so that the blades tickle my soles. & # 39;
She also claims that grounding has helped her sleep. & # 39; When he was a newborn, it was wonderful to be outside with him in my arms & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; I relaxed and he would drift away without problems.
& # 39; Today my son is a year old and he is starting to benefit more from grounding. We take off our shoes and practice it in the park when we play. He likes to be on the grass. He has given me a new appreciation for grounding.
& # 39; It relaxes me so much that I even ask my partner to pet my feet in the same way the grass touches, because it triggers the memory of outdoor orientation. & # 39;
Stephanie has often praised the virtues of grounding to her partner, but with little success.
& # 39; He thinks I'm crazy! & # 39; she says. & # 39; But then he is not & # 39; downy & # 39; type. Everyone has their own stress reliever. He reaches for chocolate while I take off my shoes and lower my feet into the ground. & # 39;
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