Beautiful Blogging ~ Can Playing in Mud Make You Feel Better?
So it's true, I have returned from the beach where it was rather cold and rainy, but the beach non-the-less! I saw some absolutely beautiful blossoms in South Carolina and I was sooooo jealous! Here in Western New York there's still a bit of snow and we are "patiently" awaiting our blooms! But in the interest of all of my friends, near and far, I thought it would be a good time to post this.
If you're like me, you can't wait to get out in the yard and begin digging and planting. Gardening has become a recent passion of mine and while I am far from a master gardener, I sure do enjoy it. I adore the instant gratification of viewing my hard work: the trimmed bushes, the beautiful rainbow of colors poking through the freshly planted pots, and the neatly trimmed grass. Moreover, I can get literally get lost in all the digging and pulling and planting, not a care in the world. It's hard work but oh so satisfying. As a clinical social worker I often recommend to my clients that they try gardening as a mean of relaxation and meditation as you literally become entranced in your work and think of little else. But did you know that gardening can actually help you feel better?
Scientist have recently discovered that playing in the dirt can actually enhance the mood. Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria that is naturally occurring in soil, is thought to stimulate the production of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain (2) which just might improve the immune system and mood. A lack of serotonin is linked with depression in people. Scientists at Bristol University discovered that lung cancer patients being treated with Mycobacterium vaccae noted improvements in the quality of life. Further, research done with mice exposed to this bacteria have shown increased amounts of serotonin in their brains (1). Thus, more research is being conducted to determine if Mycobacterium vaccae has antidepressant qualities.
So now you have another reason to get out in the garden. Not only will you have a beautiful yard and yummy home-grown veggies, but you may also enhance your mood, naturally!
1 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6509781.stm
2 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium_vaccae