Close your eyes for a moment. Take a deep breath, and as you inhale, you smell the rich, earthy scent of soil in your garden. When you exhale, you imagine kneeling down to the ground, grabbing a handful of soil, and feeling the warm sun on your face.
You’ve been here before, right? This memory brings a smile to your face, because you can remember how happy being in your garden makes you feel.
Did you know that exposure to Mycobacterium vaccae, present in healthy soil, actually altered the brain chemistry of mice in the same way that anti-depressants do? This friendly bacteria activates serotonin, releasing neutrons in the brain (otherwise known as the happiness hormone). Working in the garden, or even taking a walk in the woods can provide enough of a dose of Mycobacterium vaccae to uplift you.
The next time you feel anxious, a little digging or a walk down a nature path may help calm you down and improve your mood. And remember, the healthier your soil is, the healthier your soil bacteria will be, because soil is a living system, just like our bodies.
Now is the perfect time to get digging and to prepare your gardens for the planting season. And it is an even better time to take advantage of all that natural soil serotonin!