Irrespective of age, race or gender, we all undergo stress. If you are a teenager, then that pimple on your face–and that too on a date night–is a cause of anxiety. Or even worse, not having someone to take out on a date! Examination induced stress is another common one. If it happens to be your child’s examination, then it means double the stress! It gets worse with the approach of result announcement dates but it doesn’t end there. In fact, stress levels are only heightened because the actual fight is only just beginning – that of college admissions.
Then there is missing-a-flight stress or if you happen to reach on time, there’s always the too much excess baggage stress. Whether you are job hunting or setting up a business or part of the corporate rat race, there’s tension all around. One is emotionally stressed when there’s a breakdown of a relationship or marriage. Very often, especially with arranged marriages, a few months after the wedding vows have been exchanged, reality strikes! It’s no longer hunky dory and roses all the way.
And what do many consider the ultimate source of stress? Most will perhaps highlight not having enough money or clothes! Ironically, it is only when we grow much older do we realise that having poor health is actually the biggest cause of worry.
Stress cannot be wished away
At times, stress is caused by external forces but very often it is self-inflicted. More the expectations, higher the stress levels. Different people, however, deal with stress in different ways. Some let it get to them and make it worse by allowing it to bog them down. Others have found a way to deal with it. It could be in the form of yoga, meditation, deep breathing, playing games, dancing, listening to music, watching movies or shows, going for counseling sessions, therapy or even binge eating.
The point is, if you know how to deal with it, then half the battle is already won! As for me, I’ve figured I need to divert my mind from things that are troubling me and over which I have no control. I find indulging in activities–that allow my creative juices to flow–help me to overcome my anxieties.
Gardening, my stress buster
Gardening is one such creative activity that eases the turmoil and relieves the traffic jam in my mind! My love affair with gardening started when I was a teenager. I have fond memories of tending to the ten and a half pots lined up in the small balcony of our flat!
Luckily for me, marriage saw me being based in the tea estates of West Bengal and Assam where I spent almost 25 years of my life. I lived-in far-flung areas, miles away from inhabitation, but resided in massive bungalows. The were usually set amid vast lawns up front and an equally large kitchen garden on the rear. As an added bonus, we had a retinue of staff for assistance with chores.
Life in the gardens came with its share of troubles. But what worked for me was the fact that I could step out and spend as much time as I wanted, among my plants. The peace and tranquility I felt when I was in my little ‘Garden of Eden’ was unmatched. There was hardly a flower, shrub, fruit or vegetable that I did not grow.
There was a feeling of accomplishment when I would see the seeds sprout, grow into plants, flower and then bear fruit. It was an immense feeling of satisfaction, of cultivating calmness along with the roses, dahlias, potatoes, tomatoes and the like.
My love affair with plants continues till date
It’s been a while since I left the gardens to settle down in a city. But even in this concrete jungle, I have made my own ‘Shangri-La’. I am surrounded by flowering pots, aromatic plants and a little vegetable patch. Although the space is limited and I do not have access to the manpower I once did, I try and grow as many flowers and vegetables as I can.
Gardening entails spending time with nature; it helps restore my senses, relaxes my body, revives my mood, and rejuvenates me totally. In fact, it’s better than any spa treatment that I know of! The entire process is like therapy. Digging of the earth, adding the manure, sifting the soil, feeling it run through my fingers — it delivers a calming influence on a stressed-out soul!
There’s this lovely cadence one gets into when weeding. The repetitive movement, the furious digging and tugging out of weeds are just what I need to discharge the steam on my mind. With every weed that I pull out, there’s a distinctive pop in my brain, a signal that the cloud is clearing up!
I start my day with my morning cuppa, sitting on my lush green lawn, with birds chirping as they fly down to nibble over the bread pieces that I’ve liberally strewn all around. And I say to myself, “Stress? What’s that?”