Sunday, May 19, 2013

Get Down and Get Dirty!

I missed last Sunday’s blog because of the way circumstances rolled out, which included 27 cm of fresh early spring snowfall in Timmins and a delayed flight, but….I woke up in Ottawa Monday morning ready take an instructor’s course for Mental health first aid.
How green and colourful Ottawa is:  its tulip time in Ottawa, which is an important part of my Dutch heritage.  I love tulips!
(Years ago, the Dutch Royal family sent 100,000 tulips bulbs as a gift to Ottawa for sheltering Princess Julianna and her daughters during World War II, during which time daughter Margriet was born. I did not have time to participate in Ottawa’s annual spring tulip festival, but had dinner with a couple of friends who included wonderful “tulip tours”, thank you Mac and Mary!)

As we finished our Mental health first aid course later in the week, we talked about self-care: not as a luxury but as a necessity in keeping mental health on track. In talking about the need for everyone to take time to practice hobbies, my colleague Denis and I engaged in the topic of gardening.  Gardening, as Denis and I understand it, has emotional/social/physical and spiritual benefits. 
Denis mentioned that not only did he enjoy gardening, but he needs to get the soil into his hands and the dirt under his nails to feel great.  I feel the same, and thought I would explore this notion a bit further….   some internet searching producing this:
 Dr. Chris Lowry, and his colleagues from Bristol University, have been exploring the Mycobacterium vaccae.  Originally pursued as part of a possible treatment for cancer, patients have reported an increase in feeling better about the quality of their lives.   Also, mice fed this harmless bacteria display less agitation and anxiety and have increased levels of the brain chemical serotonin.  This would mean nothing, except that this bacterium which produces happy chemicals exists freely and readily…. in soil…..earth…aka dirt!
Our skin is the largest organ in our body absorbing all kinds of things.  So, who needs fancy gardening gloves? I hope to join Denis, and many gardeners alike, in feeling a natural high by getting my hands down and dirty this holiday weekend!  Perhaps you’d like to give it a try…maybe just even watching a few seeds come to life in earth? Happy gardening!

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