Growing up, I was routinely warned not to walk on other people’s yards. The sole exception to this rule applied to lawn mowing. Also, grass at a park was fair game, as it wasn’t the cultivated area of green grass associated with an individual’s property.
In adolescence, I was required to mow many yards. Residents at the all-boys cottage of the children’s home in which I lived were assigned manual labor to keep idle hands from forming the devil’s workshop—or so went the lesson we were taught.
Similar grass advisement applied to my time in the Marine Corps, as well. Punishment for violating unwritten grass standards was swift, sometimes venturing into the domain of hazing.
When undergoing the security clearance application phase as a Marine, I recall having to explain a number of my Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory answers to a military psychologist. In particular, the mental health practitioner interrogated me about my answer regarding whether or not I walked on grass.
Apparently, I was said to have presented myself in a “favorable light,” because I refrained from touching grass. Now many years since my youth and the Corps, I practice psychotherapy exclusively through online services.
Practically speaking, I have very few moments which require contact with grass. For this, I am grateful.
In fact, and if I so chose, I could altogether avoid physical contact with the outside world. Per my personality or character trait profile, I could be thoroughly content with remaining indoors most of the time.
As such, the national response to COVID-19 wasn’t as impactful to me as it seemed to have been regarding other people. Aside from the authoritarian overreach demonstrated by local, state, and federal government entities, I was satisfied with not engaging with an organic environment.
These matters stated I remain aware that many people aren’t like me. As humans, we simply aren’t all the same. Some people who spend an inordinate amount of time inside their homes tend not to function well.
For such people, distressing thoughts, impoverished mood, and inappropriate behavior can result from social disengagement. Confusingly still, there is not a set standard by which each person must spend X amount of time around others in order to enjoy an improved quality of life.
Even those of us who are naturally more introverted or perhaps akin to Japanese Hikikomori (acute social withdrawal) subculture may not be aware of how non-COVID-19 social-distancing may impact our mood. Alas, there exists a phrase to address self-disturbance associated with being inside for too long.
Perhaps you’ve been online or on a social media app and delved into the comment section, discovering the expression “touch grass.” Per one source, “Touch grass is used on the Internet to tell someone to go outside.”
The remark isn’t merely advocating people to reconnect with the outdoors, as one source adds that “it means they need to come back to reality, they need to get some fresh air and get back in touch with how the real world works.” A similar idiom is, “Get your head out of the clouds.”
For some people, the clouds swirling in the mind produce calamitous storms of belief which impact the way they behave. Momentarily separating from the Internet or social media sites and reconnecting with the outdoors is one method of disrupting the mental, emotional, and behavioral whirlwind.
While there are a number of ways to ground oneself in the organic world, touching grass can offer an instant association with what actually is—as opposed to the chaos associated with what one demands ought to be.
For those with skin sensitivity associated with grass, you don’t necessarily have to touch a lawn with your epidermis. Grounding can be achieved despite clothing, shoes, and other barriers.
Recently, I was reminded about the importance of the lesson discussed herein during which I attended an intimate marriage ceremony for a bride whom I’ve known since her childhood. She’s now 26-years-old.
The nuptials were exchanged on the grounds of the Texas Capitol, as attendees all touched grass at the gathering. We were grounded in the moment and I enjoyed the opportunity to witness two people pledge devotion to one another.
None of the circle of concern content swirling in my mind was present during the gathering that the bride and I joked about as having served as a “shaming ceremony” during which she and the groom legally committed to one another before the eyes of their guests and onlookers.
It was a meaningful reminder about what in this life matters to me. Additionally, the event served as the catalyst for a new blog category.
Moving forward, and from time to time, I plan on attending various events and writing about my experience under the “Touch Grass” compilation of occurrences. Rather than simply blogging about my perspective, I’ll focus the matter through the lens of psychotherapy.
As a side, welcome, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)! This is the post associated with the receipts I’ll be claiming in the future.
For everyone else, how might getting outside and touching grass impact your life? Would grounding yourself in reality—unconditionally accepting what occurs in the here and now—improve your level of functioning and quality of life, as well?
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
(Me and the bride—someone I’ve been proud to know for just over a quarter-century)
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Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-acceptance
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Lacrynx. (2021, January 19). Touch grass. Urban Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=touch%20grass
PC Magazine. (n.d.). Touch grass. Retrieved from https://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/touch-grass
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Hikikomori. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori