Shinrin-yoku is the process of slowing down and immersing yourself in the smells, textures, tastes, and sights of the forest (or anywhere outdoors that surrounds you in nature—it could even be a quiet local park).
In productive garden soil, there can be anywhere between 100 million and 3 billion bacteria in a gram (about a teaspoonful). These hard-working microbes do everything from fixing nitrogen to decomposing material in the soil.
Now, they’re even responsible for lifting your mood and making you smarter. (And if those experiments with mice are any indication, these natural effects may last up to three weeks after smelling, touching, or getting M. vaccae bacteria in your bloodstream through a cut.)
These same antidepressant microbes in soil are what make us so happy when we’re gardening. (Yep, there’s a new study on that too.)
In fact, Princeton researchers found that household gardening was the only activity where women and people with lower incomes reported higher emotional well-being than men and people with medium and higher incomes—a high equated to biking or dining out.