I've been noticing lately my own natural instinct is to head outside when I am feeling a little grumpy, snappy or generally irritable. I have trouble focusing on other useful things in this state, so I tend to wander outside and ultimately, I end up mindlessly pulling weeds (because otherwise they add to my irritation).
The thing I've been noticing lately is how much better I feel after a few minutes of doing this. I have begun to think of it is as my mood reset button, and now it seems that I might not be imagining this effect.
Alys Fowler wrote about this in the Guardian recently, and cites a couple of studies that indicate that a bacteria in the soil called Mycobacterium vaccae may lift spirits. Seems that mice who ate this bacteria responded with boosted immune systems and increased production of serotonin, and people with lung cancer in another study experienced less cancer symptoms and greater emotional health.
So is pulling weeds, gardening and generally playing in the dirt (preferably with bare hands) a mood lifter? Well, I can certainly vouch for it.... but it seems that there maybe science to back that up.
(Image: Jocelin Martinez & Dani FIsher / Alex's Cozy Garden Apartment in Brooklyn House Tour)