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Improve your mental health this November, it might be easier than you think

You can improve your mental health with these two natural chemicals

Did you know that there are two naturally-produced chemicals that are largely responsible for our mental health and emotional wellbeing? There are good reasons why gardening is good for you, not least the hormones that gardens help you to produce.

A young man who looks unwell and depressed. mental health, depression, unhappy, sad, ill health, unwell, ill, gardening, how to improve your mentalhealth. Latest figures show that one in four people is likely to be affected by mental health problems. Around 450 million people currently suffer, therefore it is one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.


How can you raise your spirits?

You still have the last days of autumn in which to enjoy being outdoors. It won’t be long before temperatures plummet (probably) and the cosy interior will possibly be more appealing than the garden. If your spirits are feeling low on cloudy days, the garden makes for excellent therapy.  And it's free. Try it. Spend just an hour raking leaves, pruning roses or tidying the lawn edges and you are bound to feel better. Watch your green waste bin, bag or compost heap fill and a sense of satisfaction will wash over your consciousness.

gardening outdoors is good for your health and can improve mental wellbeing, There's more to gardening than just planting and tidying things, It has an excellent effect on the brain too.

It has been shown that gardening is good for the soul.  

A recent survey discovered that 92 per cent of adults in the UK believe that gardening helps them to relax and de-stress. They agree that it’s a great way to lift the mood. Why?

A senior couple taking a country walk surrounded by nature and a field of cows. Gardening is good for you. Being outdoors and immersed in nature has been shown to be good for reducing stress levels.

Mental health is a growing concern here in the 21st century when our lives are undoubtedly more chaotic than before. Mental health experts describe depression as a ‘global epidemic’.

a young person looking depressed and staring out of the window. gardening can help to overcome depression Feeling depressed and having mental health problems is no joke. It has been described as an epidemic.

Many people believe that we have largely lost touch with the soil. It appears that the human body is capable of producing happy chemicals when immersed in plants and sod. It has been found that people feel better when they get their fingers dirty too and a huge number of gardeners prefer to ditch the gloves so they can feel their way. Of course, gloves are essential when working with prickly garden beasts and heavy work.

gardening without gloves allows you to get your hands dirty, dirty hands are good for your mental health. Get those hands dirty, it's good for you (generally!)

Natural chemicals to make you feel good

Two naturally-produced chemicals are largely responsible for boosting our feelings of happiness and these also feed positively into the immune system too. Serotonin and dopamine are the magic words.

Serotonin makes you feel good and it is nicknamed the happy molecule or hormone. A Serotonin molecule. Understand it or not, we all feel the effects of the happy hormone.
A diagram of the hormone dopamine which is called the feel good factor molecule. Dopamine produces the feel-good factor but it also fuels addictions.

It's in the soil

There is a specific bacteria in soil called Mycobacterium vaccae which is said to trigger the release of serotonin in the human brain. This is a natural anti-depressant and lack of it can lead to depression. Serotonin is a form of neuro-transmitter and it helps to send messages from one area of the brain to another. This can affect mood, appetite, sleep, learning and social behaviour, amongst other things. It's a strong and powerful force that seems to control happiness, in simple terms.

Two people with a dog all looking happy and enjoying outdoors with a cup of tea These people look happy. Nearly a third of keen gardeners own a dog, but it's also the hormone serotonin that keeps them happy.

Partly responsible for addiction

The natural chemical dopamine releases a feeling of euphoria, and it can be generated in the human brain by many different triggers. The harvest of food is one highly effective trigger and this can occur as the result of not only picking or digging up food, but even just seeing or smelling certain foods. It is implicated in addictions too and is strongly linked to impulsive behaviour. The secret seems to lie in training, or re-wiring, the brain to crave dopamine release from the garden. Then a person is likely to reinforce their gardening habit in order to release their heady reward. It is possible to train ourselves to crave something that is supremely healthy!

A person holding a bunch of delicious grapes having harvested them from the garden and creating Dompmine hormone. The harvest of food that we have grown is enough to give us an addiction! Dopamine is a feel-good hormone that makes us want more.

Not enough dirt

Dirt-deficiency in childhood, during this age of ultra-clean, hyper-hygienic habits, is said to be implicated in contributing to allergies, asthma and mental disorders, amongst other problems. What’s more, anti-bacterial products are also thought to be partly responsible for the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Chemicals such as triclosan, which were used widely in soaps and toothpaste until a couple of years ago, have been found to cause bacteria to mutate. This is believed to have occurred because the substances are present in so many products at low concentrations. The bacterial resistance is passed genetically from one family of bacteria to another: a process which is thought to gradually lead to the formation of ‘superbugs’.

superbug bacteria are often caused by bacteria mutating in order to avoid being killed off by antibiotics. Nobody wants this superbug to inhabit their life! There is a growing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can lead to serious and long-lasting health problems.

Deprived of being outdoors

Basically, we have largely moved away from a life outdoors where a symbiotic relationship with nature wards off dark moods and helps balance the brain’s chemicals.

A forest on a sunny day with sunlight streaming through the tree canopy. trees are good for you. Love being outdoors in nature, it's good for your health and wellbeing.

Start your winter the healthy way and set yourself up for life! 

Fortunately, there’s still plenty of work awaiting you in the garden as we scamper towards the month of festivities. Here’s our check list of tasks to make you feel like smiling:

A garden gate constructed from old garden tools forming the entrance to a field These tools have been made to make a rather charming garden gate. But there are plenty of other tasks awaiting your tools!

Eleven tasks for the 11th month of the year!

  • Plant bare root trees shrubs and perennials, also container-grown plants. The soil is warm and they will have a chance to establish before the winter chill.
  • Trim your lawn edges or re-cut them using a half moon tool. They will look amazing!
  • Clean your mower and make sure it’s nice and dry before storing it for the winter.
garden mowers should be cleaned and dried before being put away in a garage of shed for the winter break. Clean and dry your mower before you put it away for the winter
  • Clear leaves off lawns using a lawn rake. They can be composted as they make excellent soil improver.
  • Wash off any slimy algae from paving and paths using a scrubbing brush or jet-washer to minimise the risk of slipping.
  • Cover your compost heap with a piece of old carpet. It maintains a healthy temperature which enables the rotting process to continue.
Compost heaps in a garden are very important and during the winter they should be covered with a carpet Cover your compost heap so that the temperatures stay warm enough for rotting to take place.
  • Prune down autumn-fruiting raspberries to ground level.
  • Use horticultural fleece to protect vulnerable plants outside. These include tree ferns and banana plants.
  • It’s a great time to mulch beds, paying particular attention to slightly tender perennials such as Agapanthus.
  • Leave seed heads for the birds and lots of undergrowth to help provide shelter for minibeasts.
Blue Agapanthus flowers in the garden can be covered with mulch over the winter Agapanthus appreciate an extra layer of mulch during the winter. You can also leave their seedheads for birds to enjoy when food is scarce.
  • Take hardwood cuttings before the end of the year, for example, Cornus, vines and willow. They can root quite successfully in the open ground – enjoy growing plants for free!

Most importantly, safeguard your mental health. You can start right away. You might be surprised just how much the emotional state of your brain impacts on everyday life.

a healthy and happy person laying down in the garden surrounded by blue lavender Keep yourself happy and you should automatically feel healthy

Perfect Plants Ltd is an on-line supplier of garden plants, bulbs, house plants, garden equipment, furniture and gifts for all seasons, not just for Christmas! www.perfectplants.co.uk