I Feel the Grass Move Under My Feet…
by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer Hanes, DO
On a recent trip to New York City, I realized how fortunate my family is to be so connected to nature. Despite living in the suburbs, we listen to the birds every morning, chase lizards several times a week, grow some of our own food, spend time outdoors every day, and have a blanket of stars at night. However, until recently, there was an element missing. Incorporating this new aspect has greatly enhanced our lives.
The missing ingredient: barefoot time outside. As an emergency physician, I always encouraged footwear outdoors to avoid cuts and twigs impaled between toes that I have treated while at work. And, living in the south, one can be surprised by a hill of fire ants. I previously thought it best to wear shoes and avoid these potential risks. But it turns out we really were missing a wonderful opportunity to bond with nature, ourselves, and each other.
Piles of data support the health benefits of connecting with nature.. House plants help purify and oxygenate the air while serving as a calming presence. Fresh foods have greater health benefits, especially when eaten after literally plucking from its tree. Finally, time outdoors is connected to better sleep and reduced anxiety. This is the medical data that can easily be studied. In a spiritual or metaphysical realm, all forms of life are connected, and increasing our respect and gratitude for all life, in turn, improves our own. Some naturalists even claim this activity helps promote weight loss which might, in fact, be true.
The new solution for improving your life: barefoot time in the grass. I realized our lawn is generally free of twigs, dog excrement, and fire ants. Yes, there could be a risk to playing barefoot outdoors, but I have found the benefits have been unbelievable. Our family began spending 10 to 15 minutes outdoors each evening after dinner playing Frisbee. It’s a fun, easy game that provides the opportunity to discuss other topics of the day. My children are four and six years old, and Frisbee has become so popular they now ask for it in the morning as well.
Starting our day by feeling the cold, wet grass with our feet somehow puts it all in perspective. I find it calming and relaxing. My children find it energizing, and I believe the outdoor activity helps them to concentrate better during other morning activities. I realize time before school can be hectic, but you might just find this activity offers the reward to get your kids ready faster. It’s as simple as preparing for school and playing in the yard for a few minutes before the bus or the morning commute. Yes, feet can get dirty, but they are easily cleaned by wiping with a small towel.
As a mom and doctor, I believe the focused bonding while feeling connected to nature will help children feel more supported and ready to face the challenges of their day. As an adult, I feel a peaceful tranquility noticing the different soil textures and feel of the grass while appreciating the morning breeze or watching a beautiful sunset. There is a lack of specific data because there is no product to sell or destination to promote. However, this easy, free daily commune with nature may truly improve your life. Try it.
Bio: Dr. Jennifer Hanes is a board certified emergency and forensic physician in Austin, Texas. She shares her motherhood journey through the Mommy MD Guides. She has lost 70 pounds, and she outlines those secrets in her upcoming book, The Princess Plan. You can learn more at www.DrHanes.com