Have you ever wondered why you feel so joyful while working in your garden? Joy is just one of the many reasons to include gardening in your daily activities. Our stressful lives make us a community of irritable people who do not take the time to care for ourselves. Stress takes its toll on our health.
When we feel happy with our hands in the soil, it is partially due to the non-pathogenic mycobacterium vaccae. Scientists have found that this bacterium has the same effect on neurons as the drug Prozac. It also can stimulate serotonin production, which causes relaxation. Exposure to both dirt and plants can help boost the immune system.
Spending some time in the sun mid-day without sunscreen can be a good idea. This allows for skin to make vitamin D from the sun’s UVB rays. Skin types vary from I (pale, burns easily) to VI (dark, doesn’t burn). The amount of time it takes to produce enough vitamin D can vary from 15 minutes to two hours depending on your skin type. See vitamindcouncil.org for more information about this.
Gardening can also reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol. If you spend three hours doing moderate gardening, you can skip your daily gym session. What a wonderful trade-off while taking time to smell the roses, literally and figuratively. Allowing yourself to take a break from life and play in the dirt is giving permission to care for yourself. Looking at the world with the eyes of a child lightens our stress load and makes us laugh. This is all food for your soul and a move toward better health.
If you eat home-grown vegetables, it’s likely your dietary habits will change for the better. This is a positive choice over the growing number of fad diets that are moving us away from whole foods and causing nutritional deficiencies.
There have even been studies suggesting that gardening reduces the risk of dementia by 36%. Gardeners report better moods after planting. According to the website sojourngreatdays.com: “. . . there is no more tangible measure of one’s power to cause positive change in the world than to nurture a plant from seed to fruit-bearing.