This morning, I planted four different types of thyme, four different types of sage and two varieties of lavender and that’s just the beginning. My garage is filled with bags of dirt, various fertilizers and bunches of beautiful herbs, tomato plants and other veggie goodies left to plant. There are also two brand new, shiny, black metal raised beds just begging to be overflowing with radishes, carrots, kohlrabi and numerous varieties of lettuce. What is it about digging in the dirt that makes me so happy?
I came in, and watched the water in the sink turn a muddy brown from the dirt on my hands and looking up in the mirror, was a huge smile looking back at me. I made a cup of tea and went back outside to consider my morning’s work. I realized as I sat there, drinking my Korakundah and gazing dreamingly at my morning’s efforts, that between the tea and the herbs I was really happy. I know that research has shown that both gardening and drinking tea can improve your factor mental health, but wondered what the connection was. So, I came back in, made another cup of tea and did some research. So, here we go, science says…
Scientists have discovered that the mycobacterium (basically bacteria) found in soil improves brain function, while boosting moods. The mycobacterium found in soil increases serotonin produced in the brain, so by me getting my hands dirty, I was making my brain happy! But there was the connection- serotonin. Those of us that know the chemistry of black tea, know that black tea aids the release of mood enhancing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
I found one article that talked about various factors that promote the production of the “happiness hormone” serotonin. One factor was partaking in fulfilling activities that leave a smile on your face. Activities that provide a welcome relief from stress and problems that accumulate in our lives and by just keeping a smile on our face, when encountering these difficult circumstances aids the body’s production of serotonin. Enjoying a cup of tea and gardening, both put a smile on my face.
Another factor cited was exposure to sunlight and the effects of Vitamin D. This vitamin not only helps to keep our bones and immune system at full strength, but also indirectly stimulates the production of serotonin – this I didn’t know. So just my spending time outside in the sun, “playing “ in the dirt and then having a cup of tea outside, increased the amount of serotonin in my body. The article also stated, simply listening to music you enjoy may help put you in a good mood and this positive change in our mood, also increase serotonin production.
Serotonin was the connecting factor, between my gardening and my tea – you can also add in a little music. Basically, at the end of the day, when serotonin is at normal levels, one feels more focused, emotionally stable, happier and calmer.
So here’s to playing in the dirt, tea and music! And of course serotonin.