Household maintenance projects are considered “boring,” by some. Just consider the phrase “watching paint dry,” which is supposed to be the epitome of boredom. But while literally watching paint dry or carrying out other routine DIY tasks might feel unexciting, according to new research they’re improving your mental health.

It’s true. Undertaking a simple DIY task could be the feel-good, stress-relieving secret you’ve been waiting for to banish the day’s anxiety and provide a sense of calm.

Let’s take a closer look…

A large British DIY and home improvement retailer recently teamed up with leading neuroscientist and author Dr. Jack Lewis to show how DIY can help people cope with anxiety and stress.

It may sound bizarre, but the retailer’s survey of 1,500 adults suggests they’re on to something.

Surprise! DIY is More Relaxing than Yoga or Sports

DIY or home improvement topped the poll for most satisfying activities at 51 percent of the vote. This compares to 30 percent who opted for yoga and 26 percent who relaxed by playing a sport.

In fact, a whopping 86 percent of participants said doing some form of DIY improved their well-being and eased anxiety.

Why? Saving money by doing the tasks themselves was one key factor in why they felt better. And these DIY tasks were not complex – an incredible 58 percent said watching paint dry and checking on it was satisfying.

If you’re still not encouraged to pick up a paintbrush, trowel, or smoothing plane, then you don’t have to. The survey results suggest you can still benefit by watching others do all the work.

Watching Others Work Helps Too!

Nealy half (45 percent) said watching DIY footage made them feel more relaxed, while almost one in ten (nine percent) also admitted that sounds including mixing the paste and cutting the wallpaper helped them unwind.

Dr. Lewis and his team tested this theory with a special video. “The 20-minute video,” Dr Lewis explains, “aims to encourage a sense of calm for the viewer. Studies suggest that mindfulness or meditation are good for mental health and wellbeing [and watching] for that length of time daily can result in better mind management after 12 weeks.”

The video, called DIY Is Good For You – the World’s First DIY Meditation Movie, includes paint and gravel being poured, wallpaper being stripped, and grouting being applied to bathroom tiles.

Living in the Moment

Dr. Lewis further explains the value of DIY, saying, “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 at hand rather than worrying about past and future events – and DIY allows exactly that.

“If you’re watching paint dry, it may well signal that you’re done for the day. It comes after a good session of work, the resolution of which feels pleasurable.

“It’s important that whenever any tasks are undertaken, enough time is allowed to complete them without feeling rushed. 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.”

I’d also add that unless you’re a highly skilled do-it-yourselfer consider the complexity of the tasks you undertake. There’s nothing more anxiety inducing than trying to complete a home improvement project that’s too challenging or outside of your current abilities.