If you’ve ever spent a day pulling weeds or planting trees, you might be familiar with the feelings of pure joy, peace, happiness, and contentment that come over you after only a short while.
And you might think it’s just because you got some fresh air and sunshine… which certainly can boost your mood!
But a more surprising factor behind your gardening smile lies in the soil itself. A British study conducted a few years ago discovered that touching soil actually increases your brain’s production of serotonin, your body’s natural “happiness” chemical! If you’re unfamiliar with the neurotransmitter serotonin, the easiest way to describe it is as a messenger produced in your brain, nerves, and gut that tells your body how to feel and regulates your mood.
Certain foods, healthy sleep and exercise habits, and lifestyle patterns can increase your levels of serotonin, which can give you a mood lift, altering your levels (or perceived levels) of happiness. Researchers found that coming in contact with a certain “friendly” bacteria found in soil also activates the brain to produce more serotonin. According to the study, getting your hands dirty can boost your serotonin levels in the same way antidepressant drugs can!
So the next time you need a lift, ditch the gardening gloves and dig your hands in the soil. Mess up your pedicure and go barefoot in the dirt. Give in to your childish impulses and play in the mud! You’ll do your emotional state a world of good!
Stuff to Know:
- This post is not intended as medical advice. If you are suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, severe sleep disruption, or any other mental state that is causing concern to you or your loved ones, please seek the help of a professional.
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Questions for readers:
Do you keep your hands and feet clean all the time?
Do you garden?