National Go Barefoot Day is coming up on the 1st of June when we’re all being asked to ditch our shoes and walk barefoot for the day, whatever we’re doing.
When I saw it, I immediately thought of my fellow writer Stewart Bint and contacted him to see if he could tell me more about it.
National Go Barefoot Day was started by the Soles4Souls charity after the catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004. The aim of the day is to encourage us to donate footwear which the charity then passes on to those who need them.
Here in the UK, it’s much easier to go barefoot if we wish. And thereby hangs the rub: if we wish. Generally, the terrain is manageable, and we’ve got the option to put shoes on if it gets difficult.
I belong to a Facebook group called Barefoot Living UK, which has a few real hardcore members who never wear shoes, through those of us (like me) who go barefoot whenever safety and social etiquette allows, to those who simply kick their shoes off now and again, perhaps in a park or on the beach and look in awe at the numerous pictures of unflinching walks across rocky terrain and gravel.
So, why do I do it? It’s been proven beyond doubt that being barefoot helps both physical and mental health – by stimulating blood circulation; helping your body eliminate a fair amount of fats and toxins; reducing stress, depression, and neurosis, which strengthens the nervous system; preventing varicose veins, and improving posture and balance.
Find out more about this day by clicking on the image.
And, of course, when your bare feet are in direct contact with the ground, it’s also like a prolonged reflexology session, freeing accumulated energy, which, if not allowed to flow naturally, causes many types of disease. Reflexology simply stimulates certain parts of the sole of the foot which are connected to our organs and other parts of the body. Walking barefoot does this naturally.
Personally, I believe going barefoot has an enormous impact on my mental and spiritual wellbeing, eliminating hypertension and stress. When I’m barefoot I’m so much more aware of my surroundings. I’m at one with the terrain, not just a spectator. Focusing on my steps and not my problems, clears my mind, putting me at ease, and considerably reduces stress and tension. And what’s more…it’s FUN.
And hiking barefoot on woodland trails or countryside paths is the most fun of all. The human brain is programmed to process vital sensory information from bare hands and feet. Gloves and shoes seriously inhibit this. Think how desensitised our hands become in gloves. Feet have thousands more sensory nerve endings, so are even more desensitised in shoes.
Any type of footwear – flip flops, shoes, boots, even socks – acts as a barrier, dulling our senses. I ask sceptics, would they ever listen to music while wearing ear muffs, or watch a beautiful sunset through a piece of gauze? No, of course, they wouldn’t. So why block all those wonderful sensations that the soles of bare feet take in and pass on to the brain for processing our environment?
I hope you’ll remember all this when you abandon your shoes just for the one day on 1st of June and perhaps try it more often.
Ballpark figure – I reckon I’m barefoot 90 per cent of the time now. I just wish I had the courage to donate all my footwear to charity and go the final ten per cent, too, making bare feet a permanent way of life.
Meanwhile, you may like to take a look at a few of Stewart’s books.