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Gardening good for mental health: thoughts from the farmette

It's a sunny day - again - at the farmette. It's already hot and the forecast is for it to get to 32C!

With all the stories in the news about how people should pay attention to their mental health as much as their physical health, I thought I'd do a little riff on gardening. Getting out and rolling around in the dirt - planting, watering and even weeding - really does lift me up. Part of it is that I actually need to get outside to exercise and relax. After a day of sitting in front of the computer writing for other people and squeezing as much out of my wee brain as I can, I find it extremely necessary to get outside, stretch my limbs, breath the air, smell the flowers and touch the earth. Another part is the satisfaction I derive from seeing these tiny little seeds turn into entire plants that push out all manner of vegetables and flowers- it's really a miracle, especially when you think of the towering beauty of sunflowers!

Recently, the psychological benefits of growing plants have been validated by science.

They've actually found that gardening increases serotonin and dopamine levels. Apparently, Mycobacterium vaccae, a component of soil, acts like a natural Prozac, stimulating the production of the 'happy' hormones, which generate feelings of relaxation and contentment.

My late mother would find that fascinating. While her motivation was mostly to have vegetables and fruits to feed the mob of her family for the entire year, I know for a fact that she'd far rather be outdoors mucking about with the hoe than being stuck inside doing mundane and soul-sucking chores like cooking or cleaning.

Recently, some relatives and friends have run up against cancer - that insidious, creeping horrible disease - and they are avid gardeners. While the act of growing things will not cure their ailments, I hope and believe that participating in the cycle of life will make their onerous journey a bit less daunting.

So there you have it readers. A Sunday meander through thoughts and ruminations about staying mentally stable from an unrepentant plant freak.

Have a wonderful week.

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