Serotonin, it has to be the most important chemical in our body (well one of them at least)… also known as the happy chemical. If you haven’t heard of it, then read on. If you have heard of it, then we are going to tell you how to get more of it!
Ever had that random moment of sheer joy and not quite sure why? Chances are your brain decided that it was going to give you a good dose of serotonin. Alternatively (and I know I’ve been here), have you ever had a day where you are lacking a certain je ne sais quoi… things don’t get finished, ideas aren’t flowing and you’re just feeling a bit flat? Well, this is probably because your brain has decided to hold tight onto your happiness injection or you are running low on happy fuel. Worse than this, low serotonin has been linked to depression, anxiety and bipolar to name a few.
Without wishing to sound like an addict, I’ll basically do anything I can to get a boost of these delightful little chemicals! There are a number of ways you can do this… all the classic stuff like eat well, exercise, positive thinking…. you know the score. However, there is one more tiny activity that has been shown to boost your serotonin levels, and it is right up our street.
Plants! There are some pretty amazing indirect and direct ways in which they do this… so here is a whistle-stop plant happiness hack list that we think gives you rather good justification to put your laptop down as soon as you have read this (or right now), pick up your nearest plant, and get involved.
The very process of being outside helps with Serotonin levels. A good few hours in your garden, on your balcony or tending to your window box will expose you to UV rays (no, they aren’t always bad for you…). When absorbed by your skin, UV light produces Vitamin D which, along with many other things, increases your serotonin production. Get outside, we’ve all spent far too long indoors!
Caring for plants doesn’t need to be strenuous but I know I have worked up a sweat harvesting, pruning, hugging and repotting my plant children. Every time I do this, my serotonin production increases and I feel ready to take on the world. This does, of course, apply to all forms of exercise. However; some studies have shown that the very fact you are choosing to exercise may actually change its neurochemical effect, inadvertent exercise (like plant care) is more likely to get you a happiness hit.
Okay, this one is halfway between amazing and completely weird. Soil is full of microbes, no surprises there, and there is one microbe in particular (Mycobacterium vaccae) that has recently been linked to increased serotonin levels. Contact with Mycobacterium vaccae has been found to increase your serotonin levels and act as a natural antidepressant. It is thought that this microbe is inhaled or absorbed whilst you are digging around in your patch. (n.b. We are definitely not suggesting that inhaling a handful of soil is going to make you happy, in fact, it will probably do the opposite).
So there you have it; carving out a moment every day to put some time into your plants may just be the difference between a good day and a bad day. Beyond that, you stand a chance of avoiding the more extreme and debilitating results of a lack of serotonin. It is amazing to see how little things can have a positive impact on your mind and your body. So get some greenery in your home or get out into your garden! Lavender has been proven to boost serotonin with its scent so if you want an easy start then get some dried or fresh lavender. Try these small changes and see if you can feel a difference.
We think this is all pretty amazing and, seeing as we are in a global pandemic limbo, we have decided to launch a subscription box that brings you the health and wellbeing benefits of plants, every month. Designed for any household, we want to teach you how to care for some beautiful plants (Serotonin hit included) and enjoy some relevant seasonal produce.
We want to give you a moment of peace each month and help you grow your plant family and personally. If your interested, check out our Mind, Body & Soil page.