Nature Deficit, Forest Bathing and Earthing?

forest with sunlight

If you stick around long enough in this world, you will certainly notice that we start putting words together in ways we never have before, such as nature and deficit or forest and bathing. And earthing; what is that? Who knew these phrases would ever become a thing? But they have, and the repercussions of said nature deficit, according to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, have dire consequences.  

Our lifestyles place most of us, children included, indoors and in front of technology for almost all of our waking hours. We have no contact with nature, certainly not in the way we were originally designed to live. Until approximately 150 years ago, we spent most of our time outside hunting, gathering, cooking, doing laundry, and walking everywhere we needed and wanted to go. We even slept outside. Our primary issues were related to survival, such as having enough food, staying warm in freezing weather, caring for offspring, in other words, the basics of life. But we were always in direct contact with nature.

Back then we didn’t have the kind of stress we now have, ADHD, obesity, diabetes or any of the modern diseases that plague humanity now. Of course, we also didn’t have the technology that corresponds, directly or indirectly, to many of our current issues. Now instead of spending most or all of our time outside and in direct contact with the earth, sun and fresh air, eating natural whole foods untouched by manufactured fertilizers and pesticides, we are indoors and almost everything in our lives is manufactured, rather than natural. Even our food, certainly our housing and clothes, our tools and equipment (computers, power drills, laser cutters, and 3D printers, washers, dryers, etc), our cars and the things we consider luxuries such as flat screen tvs, and smartphones, are all totally foreign entities to our bodies. We are so engaged with them for work, education and entertainment, that we now all suffer from what Richard Louv calls Nature Deficit Disorder.  

The Problem

The results of this deficit, according to Richard Louv, are obesity, vitamin D deficiency, higher levels of aggression, increased rates of emotional and physical illness, poor attention spans, reduced use of our senses, poor academic performance, lower ability to cope with stress and a lesser sense of well being, to name a few.

The Good News

A meta review of 143 studies published in the Journal of Environmental Research found that people with regular access to green space had slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, lower blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, fewer cases of diabetes, lower levels of obesity and lower rates of mortality from heart disease.  

In The Nature Fix by Florence Williams, she investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideasand the answers they yieldare more urgent than ever.

What Can We Do? 

1)  Schedule “Free Time in Nature”

With our schedules so fully packed, the best thing we can do is to plan and schedule it.

2)  Seek Out Nature

Back yard, beach, hiking trails, forests, local parks; there is something near you, so be sure to take advantage of it.

3)  Be Mindful

Nature will do most of the work if we just show up. But there is more to it.

shinrin yoku

(Japanese Kanji for Shinrin Yoku)

In his book Shinrin Yoku: How Trees Can Help you Find Health and Happiness, Dr. Qing Li reports on the research that he and his team conducted at the Nippon Medical Center in Japan. They found that spending mindful, intentional time around trees — what the Japanese call Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing — can do the following:

  • Reduce stress levels and blood pressure
  • Strengthen the immune and cardiovascular systems
  • Boost energy, mood, concentration and creativity
  • Reset metabolism for better digestion and weight maintenance
  • Instill a feeling of greater calmness and well being
  • If practiced on a regular basis, it can increase life span.


Another amazing resource on this topic is The Earthing Movie, a documentary on the science and benefits of being in direct contact with the Earth. We recommended this film with a free viewing link in the 10th Edition of the PLANET JOY Post on November 16. Here is the link again in case you didn’t see it yet. It’s a fun way to share this information with the entire family!


Quote from the NIH (National Institute of Health) Abstract

"Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons" 

"Emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Reconnection with the Earth's electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Earthing (or grounding) refers to the discovery of benefits—including better sleep and reduced pain—from walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth's electrons from the ground into the body. This ... is a simple and easily accessed global modality of significant clinical importance."


As you can see, evidence is coming from all parts of the world as well as from different areas of study, from government research departments, medical center studies, child health sciences, individual researchers, to independent film documentaries. How much more evidence do you need? Just get out there!

Yep — just show up and let nature take its course while you read, nap, walk or play, or participate mindfully — your choice.  Either way, both your body and mind will benefit, and who among us doesn’t need that?

Did you hear this? Get outside and play! It’s proven to benefit your health, inner peace and wellbeing.

Go on … get outside!  : )


  • It is a JOY to receive thoughtful, interesting and researched suggestions which
    support our quality of daily life!
    Thank You for the care and warmth these offerings convey.

  • This is a timely reminder for all of us to plan on taking time out in nature. As the cold winter weather sets in around us, along with yet another surge in the pandemic, many of us will will feel more tempted to remain indoors—safe, warm, and comfortable. But, as your article clearly points out, we do so at great cost to our bodies and minds.

    Yes! Let’s disconnect from our electronic devices and head out into the natural world. All will benefit from this simple act. Thanks for helping to bring more joy to our beautiful planet.

    Christian de Quincey

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