Can the Cleaning! Dirt Rules!

Forget everything I said about making this the year of cleaning. I just read a blog by Dr. Christiane Northrup which has convinced me that dirt is healthy and desirable.

Have you ever heard of the Farm Effect? Studies show that kids who grow up on farms are healthier, have less asthma and fewer allergies. In fact, the tiny microorganisms in soil have been shown to act as antidepressants in the human body. Yup, getting dirty can literally make us happier! Scientists believe these molecules stimulate the production of serotonin in our brains which helps us feel more relaxed and happy.

Luckily, this news comes at the perfect moment: spring has sprung here in Maryland. The birds are waking me up in the morning. The sun is shining and the earth is reawakening. It's time to get out in the garden.

I don't know about you, but every spring I get the intense urge to dig. I need to plunge a shovel into the dirt. It doesn't much matter what I'm digging up or planting, I just know I need to do it. Now I have even more motivation than before.

What does gardening do for you? The list is LONG!

1) Getting out in the garden gives you a dose of sunshine (natural, full-spectrum light) complete with Vitamin D. Full spectrum light helps lift the spirits and lighten (get it?) the mood. It's very likely you're not getting enough Vitamin D, especially in the winter, so get out there and soak up the sun.

2) Don't forget the fresh air! Breathing fresh outdoor air is so much healthier than the stale indoor air we've been breathing all winter. Open the windows and air out your home as well.

3) Gardening is a great form of gentle exercise. Or vigorous exercise, depending on exactly what chores you're doing out there. Lifting and lugging heavy buckets of water, large plants, or rocks can definitely build muscle! Hoeing, weeding, and planting seeds offers a gentler workout. You can alternate easy and difficult tasks to give your body a complete, balanced workout.

4) My favorite part of gardening is when the seeds sprout. I never get tired of that miraculous moment. But harvesting delicious, organic food you can eat is another huge plus. Dr. Northrup describes the "harvest high" as a documented state of mind brought on by growing your own food! I had never heard of this before, but it makes complete sense.

5) You can get dirty! Touching soil microorganisms can make us happier. Who knew?

You don't have to forget all about cleaning your house. I mopped the floor in my sunroom today and it looks SO much better. (The layers of grime had been accumulating for God-only-knows how many months...) But add a little dirt to your life along with all your cleaning and see how happy it makes you!