9 Reasons Why DIY is Good for Your Mental Health

9 Reasons Why DIY is Good for Your Mental Health

 

 

 

 

In 2016 I became a widow after 48 years of marriage.  Suddenly I was in a brain fog and everyday activities felt overwhelming.  Other than “putting one foot in front of the other,” I had no idea what to do next with my life.  

Then I decided to finish the unfinished space in my basement into a living space my grandchildren could use.  Why?  I had no idea, I just knew that I had to keep moving forward.

According to this great article by Kristen Mosier, I was unknowingly doing exactly the right thing.  Taking on home projects is not only good for your budget, but it can also have lasting positive effects on your mental health.”

She says that DIY is good for your well-being in these 9 ways:

 

Finding Solace at Home

Working With Your Hands

Disconnecting From Devices

A Sense of Accomplishment

Increasing Self-Reliance

A Bonding Activity

Learning New Things

Welcome Distraction

Building Perseverance

 

Solace

Solace is defined as easing grief, loneliness, and discomfort.  So true.  At that time in my life when I no longer had my husband, I found comfort in immersing myself in the things I did have; my home and my hopes for its future.  Using my husband’s tools gave me comfort as well, and I even thought that he might have been happy with the improvements I was making to the house.  Our house, now just mine.

A picture of my house
My house

 

Working With Your Hands

” psychologist and neuroscientist Kelly Lambert found that activities that involve the use of our hands, especially those that produce tangible results, “play a key role in both preventing the onset of and building resilience against depression and other emotional disorders.”

Ok, I admit I was using power tools and not hand tools, but I think the concept is the same.  I was using my power tools to create something of value, my new room, and the time spent kept me feeling hopeful, instead of hopeless.

 

Disconnecting From Devices

Harvard psychologists found a direct correlation between happiness and staying engaged in the present moment. Taking on a DIY project offers the perfect opportunity to unplug as you focus on the physical and mental demands of working with your hands.” 

I was learning how to do new things, and that took my complete attention and focus.  Seriously, you have to pay attention when using power tools if you don’t want to lose a finger.  (My kids were worried.)  I unplugged completely except for music.  And when I was engrossed in this project, I forgot about my pain.  At least for a while.

 

A Sense of Accomplishment

This project was difficult.  When I started, I had no idea what I was doing.  So the sense of accomplishment I felt when I completed a step was enormous.  I was amazed at myself!

A picture of the newly finished fireplace wall in my new basementMy fireplace wall.  Each piece of stone was cut to fit.  Not bad, right?

Increasing Self-Reliance

I have refinished many pieces of furniture and am very good at using a power sander.  An expert, in fact.  But up until 2016, the sander was pretty much the only power tool I had ever used.  Look at the tools I am able to use now!

Chop Saw

Radial Arm Saw

Table Saw

Circular Saw

Jig Saw

Tile Saw

I know, I’ve got a thing about saws!

Brad Nailer (my favorite)

Power Caulk Gun

I’m not proficient with the Drill and Impact Driver yet, but working on it! 

 

 

So now that I have and can use all these tools, am I self-sufficient?  Hardly.  But in a pinch, I can do many more things than I previously could.  And most importantly, I am now willing to take on the challenge. 

 

A Bonding Activity

This didn’t apply to me as I took on my basement as a DIY project.  But I got a lot of support from family and friends.  That support really kept me going.

 

Learning New Things And Welcome Distraction

I spent hours (and hours and hours) on youtube learning how to finish my basement.  Enough hours that I could have received a master’s degree in DIY!  I enjoyed every minute of that learning.  Even though I was alone, I had something to do.  When I felt like crap, as I often did, I went down to my basement and made some progress.  Believe it or not, that helped me feel less like crap!

 

Building Perseverance

As a beginning renovator, I made so many mistakes. Some of them were actually laughable!


Honestly, right over the outlet!  Had to fix that

But I did persevere.  I learned to fix my mistakes or come up with a work-around.  Remember telling your kids to “count to 10”?  Yup, I did a lot of that. 

 

Moving Your Body

There was a modest amount of physical exercise involved in my manual labor.  I lifted and carried a lot of materials around, climbed up and down ladders, and did some stretching and reaching.  Then there was all that running down the stairs to admire my work.  Not exactly like going to the gym, but when I was done for the day, I was tired!

 

A picture of me relaxing on my deck

After 5 years, I am still finishing up my basement project.  It has helped me in my journey towards becoming a confident, independent woman.  Almost there.

 

Kristen Mosier’s complete article may be found here.

 

As always, take care. You can do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 thought on “9 Reasons Why DIY is Good for Your Mental Health”

  1. So true about using hand (and power!) tools: these projects keep you engaged from beginning to end, and there is so much satisfaction when you get to the end and everything looks great – most especially for us middle-aged and older women because we didn’t grow up doing these things and never knew we could! I’d love to make DIY projects my new full-time job! LOL

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