4 reasons why dirt makes you happy
If you’ve ever had a run in with a muddy kid (or muddy dog) tromping all over your freshly washed floors, you probably think there’s no way that dirt can make you happy. But, some research shows that certain dirt can indeed make people happier.
Gardeners may already be familiar with the calmness and satisfying feelings they get when they plunge their hands into the soil. But, if you’re not big on growing flowers, you might want to check out gardening as a new hobby. And here’s why:
- Bacteria in the dirt is good for your body
There’s actual truth to the idea that exposing kids to dirt is good for their immune system. A 2007 study shows that bacteria in the soil can help prevent certain inflammatory diseases like asthma, arthritis, and PTSD, according to Modern Farmer.
- Soil microbes are good for your mental health
Researchers have found that a substance called Mycobacterium vaccae, a microbe found in the soil, causes your neurons to react the same way that taking Prozac or other antidepressants do. One study showed that cancer patients exposed to this type of bacteria reported feeling happier, according to Gardening Know How. The effects of this microbe can last for up to three weeks!
- Exposure to dirt reduces allergies
This may sound slightly counter intuitive, but a study in The Journal of Allergy and clinical Immunology indicated that Amish children (living on farms) have lower rates of asthma and allergies (by 50 percent!) than kids living in “sterile” environments.
- Playing in the dirt increases brain power
When you’re playing in the dirt (planting flowers, pulling weeds, etc.), you use more of your senses: touch, smell, sound, and sight. When more of your senses are working at once, your brain is working harder, which means you may be able to work through difficult problems a little easier.
When you’re getting dirty, chances are you’re also getting a bit of the sunshine and fresh air, both of which are great for your mental and physical health. Regularly utilizing green space (like a garden of a park) can make you feel more connected with the world. So the next time you’re feeling stressed out, step away from your work, grab a shovel and start flinging dirt!