Watching paint dry used to be a synonym for the most boring activity imaginable.
Now, it has been suggested, doing just that can be good for you because carrying out ‘dull’ DIY tasks – or even simply observing them – are an excellent way to relieve everyday stress and anxiety.
The finding comes in the wake of a survey which found that 51 per cent of those questioned felt that DIY or making home improvements were the best way of boosting wellbeing. That compared to 30 per cent who chose yoga and 39 per cent who contacted friends and family.
The survey of more than 1,600 people by home retailer Wickes led neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis to create a 20-minute ‘meditation’ video featuring DIY tasks.
It includes more than two minutes of paint being poured, three minutes of it being rolled on to a wall, around a minute of wallpaper being stripped and a minute and a half of grouting being applied to bathroom tiles.
The YouTube film of ‘satisfying DIY sequences’ ends with a pressure washer cleaning a dirty patio and gravel being poured and raked across the ground.
Dr Lewis said: ‘Meditation and mindfulness are good for mental health and wellbeing. That requires staying absolutely in the present, rather than worrying about past and future events.
‘DIY requires you to do just that, and stay in the moment to complete the task. ‘The brain activity involved in painting a room is actually quite primal. A disproportionately large area of the motor cortex is dedicated to our hands and fingers, which suggests we actually evolved to do manual tasks.’
The idea of a DIY video follows the rise of ‘slow TV’ which was pioneered in Norway, and showed simple, unhurried scenes like a long train journey in full.
Similar British programmes have included the making of a wooden chair, or a glass jug, and a two-hour canal trip.
YouTube is full of videos showing paint drying, which might have been assumed to be ironic.
But 58 per cent of those in the Wickes survey said they find watching paint dry and checking on it satisfying. Dr Lewis said: ‘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.’
The majority of those polled, some 86 per cent, said doing some form of DIY has been previously beneficial to their wellbeing and eased anxiety. Saving money by doing the job themselves was an important factor.
Almost half of those who watched Dr Lewis’s video said it made them feel more relaxed, while one in ten said that sounds including mixing the paste and cutting the wallpaper helped them unwind.
Dr Lewis said: ‘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.’
(Story source: Daily Mail)