Is Anxiety Relief Found in the Dirt?

Do you struggle with anxiety? Or, perhaps a friend or loved one is living with such a disorder. Regardless, there’s no denying that stress can have a dramatically negative impact on how we handle everyday life. 

However, is being a “clean freak” detrimental to our ability to tackle anxiety head-on? Recent studies have indicated we might be inadvertently eliminating a bacterium that can actually help to block such disorders. Today, let’s explore more on the subject!


Beneficial Bacteria

Ever heard of the bacteria Mycobacterium vacae? Most folks haven’t. It turns out that this microorganism, which commonly lives in soil, contains the fatty 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid. This acid can actually help our immune cells in minimizing the development of inflammation and, in turn, stress.

So, what does all this mean? In short, this microorganism can effectively help us better manage anxiety levels. In more sterile environments, there’s less of a chance to interact with it, meaning we don’t get to take advantage of its surprising benefits.


Exposure Versus “Exposure”

Prolonged inflammation in the brain can lead to all sorts of stress-induced disorders, including PTSD and depression, particularly in youth. Social isolation and the risk of becoming introverted is also more likely. Helpful microbes that reduce stress can allow children to absorb more information, focus better, and make friends more easily. Plus, they experience more freedom and the chance to express themselves rather than live what could be deemed an otherwise sheltered life.


Rethinking Sanitary Conditions

We’ve all seen (or been) that parent chasing their toddler out of the dirt in the garden, Purell in-hand. However, there are countless scientific studies that indicate we’re doing more harm than good by not exposing ourselves and our kids to so-called “helpful bacteria” like Mycobacterium vacae. 

It’s one thing to avoid cross-contamination in a restaurant or stay home if you have the flu. However, keeping your child from playing with Hot Wheels in the driveway or getting a little dirty now and then could create issues. We don’t want to be too controlling in what they experience, otherwise putting them in a “bubble” of experiences we deem safe and sanitary. 

We try all sorts of different ways to cleanse anxiety out of our lives, including switches to minimalism and decluttering our everyday surroundings. However, what about exposure to helpful bacteria? Take the time to consider whether you’re effectively suppressing your immune system and see if you can lead a more stress-free life!

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