A Year of Natural Health & Beauty Tip #17: Get Dirty to Get Happy

By Theornamentalist via Wikimedia Commons

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.Β 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.

Questions for readers:

Do you keep your hands and feet clean all the time?

Do you garden?

10 thoughts on “A Year of Natural Health & Beauty Tip #17: Get Dirty to Get Happy

  1. I ALWAYS wondered about this. I feel completely transported after working in the garden and often have people tell me I look wonderful after spending time digging in the dirt. I’m going to send this post to my fellow community gardeners.

    1. That’s so great! I love the “garden glow” πŸ˜€ and the very particular feelings of happiness I get after working in the dirt. Was so excited to read this study when it came out!

  2. OK, I think I need to let loose and get my hands and feet dirty a bit more. I have had this major urge to get out in the garden and plant my own vegetables and herbs. Plants and veggies are calling me, so maybe it’s really mother earth calling me guiding me to get grounded and rooted to the earth. I think when we play in the dirt, were in a sense playing with mother earth and connecting with her.

    1. Hi, Jackie! I’m getting locked out of commenting on your blog so am hoping you’ll be able to see this one? Re: today’s skirt steak post: your blog keeps looking better and better, as far as I’m concerned! So, perfectionist or not, I think you’re doing great! That skirt steak looks great but I LOVE your leftover bowl. What a great way to mix it all together πŸ™‚ I just read “Wheat Belly” ~ pretty interesting stuff. The history of modern wheat is fascinating and gross at the same time. Now I’m on to some good chick lit: “These Girls” by Sarah Pekkanen. Fun so far! Have a great weekend & enjoy the sunshine!

      1. Hi Andrea! I just saw this reply. I only see the replies when I go into my wordpress account. I am still wondering if I should make the switch to wordpress. I blog for a local grocery store and blogger is a bit easier for me to write posts on.

        Thanks for the compliment regarding the steak photos and blog. We don’t cook our meat rare so I was a bit worried that the steak photos showed overdone meat. They made the steak look so perfect in the magazine but I’m a blogger who cooks and then eats the actual food so I have to cook it the way were going to eat it!

        I hope you are enjoying your chick lit book πŸ˜‰

      2. Right! It’s not just food for show, is it? πŸ˜‰ Well, I think it looked super yum. Tough call on switching hosts. I blogged with Blogger for over 6 years, and now that I’ve made the switch, I get why everyone suggested it. I’m finding it a lot more user-friendly overall.

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