How Soil and Nature Can Boost Your Mental Wellness

by Rachel Margolis, CPC, Born Enough Life Coaching


Birds happily chirping in the trees, bees buzzing around flowering plants, lawnmowers humming in the background, children running and laughing on nature’s deep green carpet and digging in the dirt to find squirmy worms – all the familiar sounds proclaiming Spring is in full swing!

As a child, nature was my “safe place”.  For me, Spring unlocked the door of an unhappy and unsafe home to a world filled with new beginnings and hope.

 I felt sheltered by the green canopy of towering trees.  I felt the warm embrace of the sun that danced on newly blossomed flowers, while the green grass caressed the bottom of my bare feet providing a sense of grounding in my chaotic world.

Yes, that’s the calming and mood-lifting power of nature!

Today, as a degreed Horticulturist and a trauma and addiction informed Certified Professional Coach, I now better understand how nature played such a nurturing role in my childhood.

There is now scientific evidence that supports the positive impact nature can have on your mental wellness, as it did for me as an emotionally malnourished little girl.  All that’s needed is to just step outside!

The following are three simple ways to use nature to lift your mood and improve your mental wellness:

1.  Soak up some sunshine.  It’s no secret the sun’s rays promotes the production of  the much needed Vitamin D inside our human bodies.  But another amazing gift bestowed by what my grandson calls the “orange ball in the sky”, is the release of the feel-good hormone serotonin and other endorphins.

When sunlight touches your skin, a compound called nitric oxide is released into your bloodstream which lowers blood pressure, improves heart health, and creates a sense of emotional, mental, and even physical calm.

So, soak up those rays!  (As always, be mindful to protect your skin from overexposure and follow your doctor’s guidance on skin care).

2.  Surround yourself with trees and plants.  Research has proven that living or regularly visiting “green” areas (an environment filled with trees and plants) reduces stress, raises your overall mood, and improves your quality of emotional wellness and mental wellness.  There’s good reason many hospitals have a serenity garden!

3.  Play in the dirt.  Scientists have discovered a microbe in the soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, that has an antidepressant affect which lowers stress, improves concentration, and enhances your overall mental and emotional wellness!

Since you don’t have to have a “green thumb” to reap the mood-enhancing benefits of soil and gardening, go ahead and plant some flowers or search for squirmy-worms – just dig in!

Could it be as simple as soaking up sunshine, surrounding yourself with greenery, or even just playing in the dirt?  You bet!  And those are just a few of the many health-enhancing benefits of nature.   

If perhaps you are unable to step out into the great outdoors, try this:  Open your curtains and feel the sun’s warmth through the window.  Visually take in the outside greenery.  Or, even bring the greenery and soil inside with easy to care for houseplants!

However you are able, allow nature to nurture your mind, your heart, your body.

Nature is calling  – how will you answer?

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