Today my self care task involved digging deep, as in deep in the soil of my yard. I had brought plant starts… mainly greens for my gardens and a few flowers to add color and beauty to the yard. Now I am the first to admit that I am not an excellent gardener nor do I have a particularly green thumb. (I do have a goal of having a green thumb by the time I am an old lady.) I am more of an occasional gardener.. I like perennials and a small manageable plot of veggies. Still, just a few plants can supplement many meals and the flowers do make me happy! I find that being in the outdoors, soaking in the sunshine, and having my hands in the dirt is calming and relaxing. Now new studies back up my experience. Mycobacterium vaccae is the bacterium found in soil and it is the substance under study. This bacterium does mirror the effect on neurons that drugs anti-depressants provide by helping to cause cytokine levels to rise, which stimulates serotonin production. The bacterium was tested both on human cancer patients who reported feeling more relaxed and happier; and on rats who showed increased cognitive ability, lower stress and better concentration than the control group. This anti-depressant effect can last up to a few weeks with none of the side effects of the drugs. Read more at Gardening Know How: Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm Remember that planting is an investment in your future~ both of nourishment and beauty. Now you know that when you dig in the dirt, you get an extra bonus of anti-depressant microbes! So join me if you please in getting a bit dirty and plant some happiness!