Gardening as an Antidepressant
Dirty secrets to relieve stress
Pandemic has conjured up loads of anxiety, depression cases in comparison with the pre-pandemic period. Experts all over the world confirm that the easiest and chepiest way to reduce anxiety is soil caring or gardening. Stating that beneficial microorganisms found in soil have got an effect of antidepressants on the human brain, experts also add that beneficial bacteria help to decrease allergy symptoms, especially skin irritations and urticaria. Experts say that the most effective method of relieving stress and relaxing is walking barefoot, i.e. “earthing”.
Uskudar University NPİSTANBUL Brain Hospital Specialist Clinical Psychologist Ihsan Oztekin evaluated the benefits of soil caring and gardening during the pandemic for human psychology.
During lockdowns, nature, polluted and disturbed by people, was able to heal itself from neagitve industrial effects. People should be aware of this situation and value the possibility to still spend time in nature.
The Health-Nature Relationships
Ihsan Oztekin believes that the nature-human relationship will be more positive, in favor of nature in the post-epidemic world. “You must have heard that it is beneficial to walk barefoot on the ground. Getting your hands dirty in the garden and taking care of the trees and flowers are like therapy for many people. Touching the soil relaxes us. The most effective method of clearing negative energy is to walk barefoot and to be in direct contact with the soil.
Clinical Psychologist Ihsan Öztekin emphasizes that the studies have shown that among diverse microbial communitites, a microbe called Mycobacterium vaccae was found in the structure of a healthy soil. Moreover, it has a similar effect to fluoxetine (Prozac), it means it affects the neurons of our brain like antidepressants. Those “happinnes” microbes increase the cytokine level that increase the production of serotonin, known as the “happiness hormone”. It is a well-known fact that decreased serotonin levels are directly related to depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and bipolar disorder. It is possible for us to feel happy and relaxed, when we produce enough serotonin. This beneficial microbe we are exposed to, when we deal with the soil, acts like an antidepressant, leading us to feel happy.
Clinical Psychologist Ihsan Öztekin listed the benefits of gardening and soil caring:
- Direct contact with a healthy natural soil allows the beneficial microbe called M. vaccae to enter our body and postiviely impact our brain functions and neurological system, leading to serotonin secretion.
- The beneficial bacteria in the soil also helps to relieve allergy symptoms, for example, dermatitis and urtecaria.
- In the long run, it becomes easier to cope with stress, while the levels of happiness hormones increase, whereas the levels of stress hormones decrease.
- Spending time outdoors is also an excellent cure for our mental health. Breathing oxygen rich air positively impacts our digestive system, lowers our blood pressure, strengthens the immune system and enhances lungs capacity.
- In addition, spending time outdoors allows us to be exposed to sunlight, which, in its turn, enables us to produce vitamin D. When we get enough vitamin D, our immune system fights bacterial and viral infections way better.