How getting your hands dirty calms your mind

I have a garden plot.  This year I had a bumper crop for the neighborhood vermin.  What the rabbits didn’t eat the rats finished off.  I never caught any rats in action but I don’t think rabbits can climb up apple trees or tomato vines.   Based on research the neighborhood rabbits and rats are not only well fed but are very mellow.

Well fed by judy

Most gardens are sources of fresh food, but increasingly they’re also an extension of therapy for people with mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD; depression; and anxiety.

It’s called horticultural therapy. And some doctors, psychologists and occupational therapists are now at work to test whether building, planting, and harvesting a garden can be a therapeutic process in its own right.

“Social scientists have also been looking at gardens built by and for the homeless, ex-convicts on probation and hospital patients. The results of early studies suggest they have a positive impact. Most people tend to not revert back to bad behavior and many make changes in their lives for the better, the studies show.”

“For now, that evidence seems to be enough to fuel the burgeoning field — programs like a camp for troubled teens in Hawaii, called Pacific Quest. Program staff tell The Salt they believe the garden is a beneficial tool to emotionally engage the kids.”

“For a few months, students — many with psychological issues from trauma, adoption, depression — band together and run a garden from the seed to the dinner plate. “They are introduced to the garden by eating the food planted by [a camper] who was in their shoes just a few months ago,” Travis Slagle, a Horticultural Therapy Association member and land supervisor for Pacific Quest, tells The Salt. “That builds their curiosity.”‘

A 2007 study in the journal Neuroscience found a bacteria found in soil linked with increased serotonin production in the brain — a sign that gardening could increase serotonin levels and improve depression.

“Much of the science behind just how gardening affects the mind and brain still remains a mystery. What scientists do know is that gardening reduces stress and calms the nerves. It decreases cortisol, a hormone that plays a role in stress response.”

click here to Read entire article

Next year I’m planting flowers. It’s only fair I give the snails their share of calm.




Imagine How to Accomplish What you Want

 Are you up a tree? Procrastinating, fearful, not sure where to begin?

You know how to make changes because your brain has continually accommodated,  integrated and assimilated changes your entire life, whether you meant to or not.


Up a Tree, by Peggy

The science 

When we experience something especially significant or meaningful, our brains store the memory for easy access.  The research was originally based on Post Traumatic Stress where people have flashbacks and vividly recall the sights, sounds, smells, feelings and thoughts they had during an actual traumatic event. 

Our brains are wired to make strong, retrievable memories when strong emotion is involved. Fortunately,  you can use this ability to go back in time and access again the thoughts, feelings and information you experienced when things went well.

Your brain can’t tell the difference between the actual event and the re-imagined event, thoughts and feelings.  When you assess those thoughts and feelings and imagine them in a new situation the brain stores that as a memory as if it happened, creating resources, stored in your brain, to make a change or accomplish something new.

Here’s an easy jump-start for you to regain or access the positive thoughts & feelings you already have stored in your brain to achieve something that you perhaps have avoided or don’t know how to accomplish.

Quickly fill out this form to help you find the resources you already have.

The change or achievement I want to accomplish is _______________________________________________________

The resources or abilities I need are ______________________________________

Think about a past time(s) when you had those resources or abilities (here’s some prompts)
Felt confident/assured/positive
Been assertive
Taken a risk
Made a new friend
Started a new job or class
Made a good decision
Organized your thoughts, your room, your files, your day
Done something you were a bit afraid or reluctant to do
Made others laugh/taken things “lightly”
Passed a test (physical/emotional/intellectual)
Started and finished a project
Confronted someone
Asked for and gotten help
Been motivated to do something hard
Motivated someone else
Been kind/forgiving
Been self-assured/positive/determined 

Based on my memory of past times the resources or abilities I already posses are___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. Using your mind’s eye remember the time you used a resource as vividly and specifically as you can.  How did you look : What were you wearing? Where were you? standing? sitting?

  • How did you move?
  • What was your tone of voice?
  • What did you feel?
  • What did you think?
  • What did you say to yourself about what you were doing?
  • What were you seeing?

2.  Now, take that image/sense of yourself and apply it to yourself in the present.  See or sense yourself with those qualities moving ahead with the change/accomplishment you chose.

3. If (or when) you get stuck it’s not an issue.  Simply recruit your memory  of the qualities/abilities/resources you’ve used in past experiences again and re-apply them to your current circumstance.  

Now, go out on a limb and take the first step.


Switch, How to change Things When Change is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Frogs Into Princes, Richard Bandler