Dirt Makes You Happy
Recent research has shown that having one’s hands in the dirt increases feelings of happiness. The gardeners among us knew that already! Seriously, research has shown that soil microbes affect the brain in ways that Prozac does, but without side effects. http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm
Research led by Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, reports that various studies show that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems. In a scientific study of volunteers, he and his colleagues performed brain scans on people who walked 90 minutes through a leafy, quiet, park-like portion of the Stanford campus or walked next to loud, hectic highway traffic. The volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed improvements in their mental condition. Blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex was lower, meaning that brain activity had quieted. Questionnaires filled out by participants who were exposed to green space showed less morbid rumination– dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives. “How Walking In Nature Changes the Brain”, by Gretchen Reynolds https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/how-nature-changes-the-brain
A study of Care Farms in England also revealed the benefits of exposure to Mother Nature. The program offers effective, inexpensive care provision for some of society’s most vulnerable populations and provides farms with extra hands for work. A three-year study by Loughborough University found that gardening can have a positive impact on the motor, communication and social skills of people with mental health problems, learning difficulties and physical disabilities.