Why watching paint dry can be good for your wellbeing

Why watching paint dry can be good for your wellbeing

New research suggests DIY can boost mental and physical wellbeing.

It found that for the majority of Brits, watching paint dry isn’t actually boring at all, as 58% say they enjoy watching and checking on it.

Home improvement retailer Wickes teamed up with a leading neuroscientist to understand how DIY can help counter anxiety, stress, and improve wellbeing. The DIY specialist also asked 1,500 participants how they felt after watching a video on wallpapering a room.

And around half (45%) said the footage made them feel more relaxed, while one in ten (9%) also admitted that sounds, including mixing the paste and cutting the wallpaper, helped them unwind.

The majority (86%) also said doing some form of DIY, such as upcycling, putting up a shelf or laying tiles, has been previously beneficial to their wellbeing and eased anxieties.

Neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis said: “Various pieces of evidence suggest that both undertaking and watching DIY is a relaxing experience. Meditation in its purest form is about living in the moment, being present and focusing on the task in hand - and DIY allows exactly that.

“The process of undertaking DIY tasks means there is no ‘brain space’ left for worrying about past or future events. And its repetitive nature can also be very meditative.

“The 20-minute video aims to encourage a sense of calm for the viewer. Studies suggest that mindfulness or meditation for that length of time daily can result in better mind management after 12 weeks.

“Undertaking DIY tasks has benefits for overall wellbeing. The motor cortex in the outer surface of the human brain has specific areas dedicated to producing movements in different parts of our body. And the brain area dedicated to the hands and fingers are disproportionately large when compared to other body parts.

“That’s because performing skilled hand movements is a very important part of being human, and the enlarged brain areas needed to trigger them - supporting evidence that doing manual tasks, like DIY, makes us happy.”

The research also found that around three quarters of Brits (72%) feel carrying out a DIY task gives them a sense of accomplishment, while over half (52%) say it helps them step away from their phone or laptop (52%) - and it gives a sense of relief that a task has been ticked off the list (42%).

Almost half (47%) said they would recommend DIY as a remedy for someone suffering with anxiety.

Wickes Most Satisfying DIY Tasks To Undertake:

  1. Removing wallpaper (named by 41% as providing a feeling of satisfaction)
  2. The first roll of paint on a wall (37%)
  3. Pressure washing (35%)
  4. Removing frog tape from a wall (33%)
  5. Putting up a shelf (29%)
  6. Sanding / sealing a bath / removing the lid from a tin of paint (16%)
  7. Mixing paint / installing flooring (14%)
  8. Fixing decking (10%)
  9. Drilling (8%)

Dr Jack Lewis added: “Doing DIY and seeing improvements over time provides a heightened sense of self-efficacy and also creates feelings of accomplishment. However, it’s important that whenever any tasks are undertaken enough time is allowed to complete them without feeling rushed, as this can result in feelings of stress.

“Whether watching or doing DIY, make sure it’s in a place where you’re able to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by external pressures.”

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