3 MAY 2008, Page 54

Garden shorts

So a little light housework or gardening cuts your stress levels, does it? Well, I never. I long ago developed a ‘ten-minute gardening’ scheme for stress-busting, and I could not recommend it more highly. I keep a bucket near to hand, containing hand fork, kneeling pad and Atlas Nitrile gardening gloves. (These are like surgeon’s gloves, and ideal for weeding, since they are as sensitive as rubber gloves, but breathable, and easier to get on and off.) Then, whenever I have a spare ten minutes waiting for the rice to cook, or a telephone call, or a programme to start I go outside to weed. In a week you can do an hour’s weeding without realising it, and that will mitigate the stress inherent in watching the rain spoil a free Sunday afternoon, which had been pregnant with horticultural possibilities. It’s cheering how long the satisfaction afterglow lasts. There is a further refinement: ‘ten-second gardening’. If you keep knife and string in the bucket, you have time to tie in the clematis by the back door, as you wait for your husband to find his car keys. Try it.

Ursula Buchan