Dr Basu’s story – Spending time in the garden to relax and de-stress

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To mark this National Gardening Week (2-8 May 2022), Dr Tamasi Basu shares with us her experiences of taking up gardening during a stressful period at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Dr Basu collage

If you’ve ever given yoga a try, you’re probably familiar with the image of a supple instructor performing a series of poses on a beach, or up in the mountains, or next to a verdant forest. Exercise and nature are two common themes that time and again appear when talking about relaxation and calming stress or anxiety.

There’s plenty of evidence on the benefits of both exercise and outside green spaces on people’s sense of wellbeing. They can boost people’s mood, help us keep fit and healthy, and even lower feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

Even if you don’t live near a forest or national park, there’s still ways to get active in nature. You can try cycling around some local countryside villages, go walking in your local park, or you could dust off those gardening gloves and spend some time in your garden!

For those of us that have a garden, gardening is a great choice to get you outside and active. All the digging, planting and harvesting boosts your physical activity while also helping you get stuck into nature.

Dr Tamasi Basu is a local GP from Thurrock and she shares with us her experiences of taking up gardening in 2020 just after the first lockdown.

Like many of us, Dr Basu, struggled with the impact of lockdown on her wellbeing while also dealing with the mounting strain of caring for her patients. In early spring, Dr Basu planted a few vegetable seeds in her garden, and what followed was a new passion that provided some much-needed stress relief.

Dr Basu said: “The start of lockdown was a very busy time for me and I was feeling very stressed by everything. I was worrying about our patients, the disease itself, the risk factors. Like so many people in the medical profession, I felt so helpless because I couldn’t do anything for my patients.

“I hadn’t really gardened before – I always gave the excuse I didn’t have time. But during the lockdown, I felt I needed to relax. Growing vegetables really changed the way I looked at life and the situation around COVID as a whole. It helped me relax after a hard day and has been a real stress buster.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to turn their garden, or even just window boxes, into their own wellbeing oasis. Starting something new can be difficult, but if you don’t have much gardening experience then start with something small. Try to grow herbs and salads on windowsill, the result you see will be a big encouragement for stepping up to outdoor soil vegetable gardening.

“Just remember to look after your health when gardening. Getting outside is a great way to get your Vitamin D, but if you’re outside for long periods, be sure to cover up your skin or use some sunscreen. Drink plenty of water, especially when it’s hot, to keep yourself hydrated and watch out for insect bites!”

For more hints and tips on managing stress or anxiety, or looking after your mental health in general, visit the Every Mind Matters website.