Not that you need an excuse to putter with your outdoor plants, rose bushes and annual flowers, but did you know that gardening is a natural antidepressant?
Not only that, but working in the garden is a great stress reliever and, so the research tells us, it might actually make you smarter!
Gardening Soil Contains Beneficial Microbes
Mycobacterium vaccae, a specific type of microbe found in gardening soil, increases human serotonin levels when ingested. Serotonin is commonly known as the human happy chemical, preventing depression and strengthening the immune system.
Fortunately, you don’t have to eat dirt to experience its benefits.
While you work in the garden – whether you’re planting annual flowers or pruning your outdoor plants – these soil-borne microbes are released into the air around you. You inhale them as you work and a voila they get to work reducing your anxiety and stress. They can also access your body through topical contact with your skin.
Other studies have linked exposure to the m. vaccae microbes to an increase in learning ability. This research shows that the effects can last up to three weeks!
Harvesting Your Garden Increases Dopamine Levels
But wait, it gets better.
When you grow fruits and vegetables in addition to your other outdoor plants, you receive a dopamine boost every time you harvest. In fact, even seeing or smelling a fruit or vegetable that you’ve grown prompts your brain to release dopamine.
Named the “harvest high” by researchers, it is theorized that this chemical reaction developed originally in hunter-gatherer cultures as a reward for the discovery of life-sustaining foods in the wild.
Psychologists believe that we can harness this naturally-induced euphoria to change bad eating habits and increase cravings for healthy fruits and vegetables.
It’s Official: Gardeners Are Happier and Healthier
Even in your everyday life, gardening makes you a happier person overall.
Additional research determined that 80 percent of people who garden and grow outdoor plants report being happy and generally satisfied with their lives, while only 67 percent of non-gardeners report being content.
The researchers also discovered that working in the garden boosted both self-esteem and confidence levels. And, as a form of exercise, the study found that those who work on their outdoor plants exercise harder but perceive it to be easier than other types of workouts.
Here at Millcreek Gardens, we already know that gardening is the key to a healthier, happier life for you and your entire family. Gather up the family and stop by today for all of your annual and perennial flowers, rose bushes, shade trees and gardening supplies. Our helpful, friendly team is here to help you get started.
We know you’ll love how you feel after spending a little time in the garden, inhaling dirt and puttering with your outdoor plants.