By Caitlin Hall, Contributing Writer
Not so long ago after an arduous week of ISTEP testing, special education fiascos, and wild students antsy for Spring Break, I almost lost my mind during 7th period. My classroom erupted into mass chaos and I was part of the problem.
My clothes were uncomfortable, my shoes too tight, my eyes hurt from looking at a computer screen all day, and the responsibilities of the day seemed like a dark cloud looming over me while simultaneously sucking life sustaining air from my classroom’s atmosphere. I teetered on the brink of a panic attack.
All teachers have been in a situation similar to mine. We have more things to do than we have hours in a day. Working in our constricting business casual clothes and cute shoes inside a dark building all day long makes us feel restricted and trapped. The work continues to pile up without end and every time we get a productive moment something happens which requires our focus.
We go to battle every day for our students and we love doing it, but it also depletes our precious energy. If we give everything to our career and students what do we leave for ourselves?
It is not uncommon for individuals in our profession to display symptoms of anxiety and depression. We are not just educators. The nature of our career requires us to also be a caregiver, nurturer, peacemaker, leader, protector, and advocate for our students. We truly fight on the front lines ensuring to prepare the next generations for the harsh realities of the real world.
We go to battle every day for our students and we love doing it, but it also depletes our precious energy. If we give everything to our career and students what do we leave for ourselves? Giving too much of ourselves without recharging can lead to looming stress-related conditions like mine during my 7th period class.
Then I tried grounding
Thankfully, I remembered grounding. Grounding is an electrical engineering term to describe connecting a conductor to the earth. Essentially, when electricians work with power lines they are first taught to ground the cables in the earth to keep the electrical currents from running wild throughout the cables.
When the electrical currents do not have a stabilizer, they can be harmful. I learned from Clint Ober, in The Earthing Movie, we humans are electrical beings and also need to be grounded to the earth in a very similar way to cables.
What happened next changed my entire class period. I recognized the chaos in my class needed stabilizing. So, I asked each and every student to take off their shoes and sit on the ground. I got a couple weird looks and one absolute refusal, but eventually each student happily sat on the floor with no shoes on. I did not ask my students to do anything, but be in this particular class period. The chaos was so overwhelming we just needed a day to center ourselves, but the classes afterwards were a different story.
The following day I tried the same thing, but this time I asked each student to work on their assignments as well. This insanely stressful class, which frequently brought me to the brink of tears most days, became a quiet and productive oasis. Students were happier, more focused, and genuinely more pleasant. This produced such amazing changes we now spend our class periods with no shoes on the floor, and I only occasionally want to run away pulling my hair out.
Why does grounding work?
So, what made this small change so impactful? According to The Earthing Movie, humans have had a strong connection to the earth throughout time. Our early peoples did everything outside which allowed them complete access to our natural world. As we progressed with modern technology we began to spend less and less time outside.
We no longer sit on the ground, walk barefoot, or sleep on the ground keeping us grounded to the healing energy of the earth. With stress-related illnesses and discomforts on the rise could our modern lifestyle be the cause? The folks behind the recent film, The Earthing Movie seem to think so!
The lead scientist behind the film, Clint Ober, claims by connecting electrical frequencies of our body and the earth we are provided important elements to improve our health. Our body acts as a natural conductor which essentially needs to “plugin” to the earth to stay “charged”.
Unfortunately, we have done everything possible to disconnect from this powerful energy source. We wear synthetic shoes, stay indoors, and decrease our energetic input by being constantly attached to technology. Each of these things blocks our ability to connect to the earth’s frequencies which is according to Ober a healing energy.
Ober and other scientists also claim when we connect with this healing source of energy, we can see a decrease in inflammation, stress-related ailments, the inability to sleep, acute headaches, and traumatic injuries. Testimonials on Earthing Vitality’s website claim grounding can even be beneficial for supporting children with autism.
In short, grounding can be a great and free way to tap into natural healing energies and reduce stress. Check out two ways The Earthing Movie suggests using grounding for self-care.
The easiest way to ground is to get outside! When we let our inner child run wild and barefoot all over our yard, we actively ground ourselves. 15 minutes a day walking barefoot or sitting on the ground can work wonders for stress management. Take a day and go hiking in the forest or enjoy a weekend picnic. Whatever you decide to do, the most important part involves just getting outside.
In the warmer months during the school year, I really enjoy taking my classes outside for reading time. We all go outside with a book and soak up the sunshine. My special education kids can be awfully wormy when the weather warms up outside. Allowing them to be outside in this way helps them to ground, relax, and refocus.
The shoe discussion
The Earthing Movie made the case against synthetic or rubber made shoes, claiming these shoes block our natural ability to ground with the earth’s frequencies. Ober suggests taking our shoes off as often as possible, but that is not realistic to do in our world today.
Thankfully, a few great shoe companies out there pride themselves on making shoes of natural products to allow our bodies to ground to the earth. Birkenstock is one such well known company, but a quick Google search will bring up many others!
When you can, however, take those shoes off as often as possible. Our feet were meant to be free and grounded to the earth. If you are able, during the school day allow your students to take their shoes off in class. Most school buildings have a concrete floor under the carpet and tile. Concrete allows for the earth’s frequencies to pass through so when your students take their shoes off they are grounding to the earth through the concrete.
It can’t hurt to try grounding
Maybe it is just being outside in nature or maybe it truly is connecting with the earth’s healing energy. All I know is, when I use grounding methods in my personal life and in the classroom, I see tremendous improvements. I feel less scattered and overwhelmed while my classroom sees a reduction in unwanted classroom behavior.
Grounding is easy and a free way to feel better! Take your shoes off and give it a try. You won’t regret it!