Vacay Every Day

Beach vacations or mountain vacations?   Which getaway does the body the most good?  The Mini has only been to the mountains so far.

I have enjoyed both types of trips, and I think I’ve spent about equal time at both.  But I have more childhood memories of the beach.  Family beach camping vacations, day trips and week-long excursions with youth groups, family get-togethers at various NC beach spots…and lots of bare feet.  Although I prefer the crisp mountain air, low humidity, and natural beauty of the hill country, my body seems to recharge more effectively with a few days oceanside. 

For many years, my brother was extremely generous to have given us a free week at his beach spot in Virginia.   Those weeks were so powerful for us as a family.  I felt so rested afterward.  Beach walks at sunset were one of the family’s favorite aspects of these trips.  He has since sold the property, but my wife and I like that location so much that we keep going back to that resort for a few days every year. 

Yes…my bare feet…don’t get weird!

Soon after I received my diagnosis, I heard a health podcast discuss the concept of grounding:  where humans and animals alike do better when they make contact with the actual ground on a regular basis.  A testimony of someone sleeping better when they ground their bed to the earth with a conductive wire sounds a little woo-woo, but not too far-fetched to me.  I heard about a mother whose baby would cry until the mother walked outside – in bare feet.  Getting off of the man-made floor seemed to calm the baby.  I enjoy hearing the testimonies of others, but sometimes I have to experiment with myself to see if there is benefit.

Props to the “Healthy Gut Girl,” Kitty Martone – her podcast called Stuff Your Doctor Should Know has been so helpful in exposing me to many alternative therapies, including some of this information on grounding.  Check her out at www.healthygutgirl.com

I think I understand the principles of grounding.   We are to a certain degree electrical beings.  We know electricity flows in our bodies.  Ions, charges, chemical activity, water conversion to energy, and all that scientific stuff makes sense to me — even if I can’t fully explain it.  It all happens within us.  My brain waves are electrical too.  What do THEY need?  Probably to be well grounded for better flow, not insulated from this planet where I currently exist.  (Pun intended!)

The upshot of the podcast’s discussion:  touch the ground every day.  Walk barefooted often.  The “grounding instructor” related how good people feel when they go to the beach for a day, and how much more relaxing it is to go for a whole week.  We need that from our work.  Something about a week of vacation rejuvenates us.   We may actually “recharge” – more than simply mentally.  Touching the ground may be relaxing, invigorating, and neurologically healthy in many ways that we have a hard time measuring.

I stopped worrying about how to measure this effect soon after I learned about it.  I got out the in yard early one morning and worked on shoveling up some dirt that had collected at the bottom of our sloped driveway, all with no shoes.  Very different for me; I was taught to never do yard work in bare feet.  Might lose a toe!  I was careful, and I didn’t use anything sharp or powered.  I cannot tell you that I felt any energy per se, but I felt good.  I started to breathe in the morning, and enjoyed the dirt, the grass, and even the pavement under foot.  Maybe some avid gardeners have a similar experience when they touch the soil.

Socks and shoes are necessary; most days I have to wear them.  But it feels so good to take them off! As if my feet have lungs of their own, they are “happier feet” when their masks come off, and they get to stretch, expand, and maybe even dance.  Now I try to get the toes in the grass every day.  Winters are tough on this practice, and I do miss a few days of grounding during the very cold season here.  The whole grounding experience makes me long for a beach retirement!  Perhaps the mountains would be just as good – as long as I am taking my shoes off regularly.

I had the realization that my daily walk without shoes is like a vacation for me – but 15-20 minutes at a time.  If my brain chemistry needs a vacation, this might be better than TV, food or alcohol, and possibly as helpful as cardio exercise with rubber soles that insulate me from the planet.  I now vacay every day.  (Don’t worry, I exercise too.  Maybe I should try barefoot yoga outside to get it all at the same time!)

The Mini’s tires are very insulating electrically, so I leave it behind when I’m grounding.  Perhaps I’ll take it for a ride to a new grassy spot where I can roam barefooted for a while.  Cars are great, but we need to shift gears and get out of them sometimes.  C’mon, vacay with bare feet outside every day with me!  It costs you nothing but time, and maybe a few questioning looks from your neighbors.  I’m sure, in comparison, it’s one of the least embarrassing things I’ve ever done…

Published by Bart Shoaf

Blogging about victories and challenges as a middle-aged man with a late diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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