Five Reasons to Play in the Dirt

Five Reasons to Play in the Dirt

This past weekend I found myself on an unusually warm February day playing in my yard. I picked up dead branches, removed the last of the dead leaves and set up my gardens for spring’s approach. Playing in the back yard and getting my hands dirty felt good! So join me in getting your hands dirty on a regular basis!

Reason #1 – Dirt is wonderful for the immune system!
Dirt contains a large variety of bacteria, both good and bad. Repeated exposure to these bacteria helps to strengthen your immune system. Dirt “play” decreases the risk of allergies and asthma. Dirt can also enhance the microbiome of your body. Be prudent after playing in the dirt and wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or eating food or drink.

Reasons #2 – Playing in dirt can create a sense of accomplishment.
Finishing an outdoor project create feelings of achievement! Clearing dead leaves and branches refreshes the feel of a yard and makes things look nice. Planting flowers to watch them grow and then harvest them for your kitchen table is beautiful! Getting a vegetable garden ready for spring plantings creates excitement for the upcoming summer dinners you can cook. All of these feelings are senses of accomplishment, the delightful feeling have getting something done, which research has shown to boost your brain!

Reason #3 – It is fun and child-like.
Remember the days of making mud pies? Why stop? It’s fun to use the creative side of your brain and pretend. Not into pretending? Then make something! Use fall pinecones to make a wreath for your front door, pick up acorns to fill a vase, or collect dry leaves to press between pages of a book. You can dry flower petals that have fallen to the ground and make lovely cards to send to friends!

Reason #4 – Playing in the dirt takes you outside and closer to nature.
A connection with nature has massive mental and physical health benefits. Positive endorphins are released to boost your mood. Touching and interacting with nature also helps you build appreciation for the simplicity and beauty of the natural world around you. Lay in the grass and watch the clouds go by. Admire ants as the expand their homes. Try to catch grasshoppers or follow fireflies on warm summer evenings.

Reason #5 – Playing in dirt can help maintain and build sensory development.
Feeling how the dirt falls through the fingers on your hands, listening to birds chirp, seeing green grass and smelling aromatic flowers all engage the senses. Stop for a moment and enjoy every sense. It creates a perfect environment for meditation!

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