9 Reasons Why DIY is Good for Your Well-Being, According to Science

Taking on home projects is not only good for your budget, it can also have lasting positive effects on your mental health.
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Finding Solace at Home

We’ve all been stuck inside our homes a lot lately, so it’s no wonder that DIY projects are having a major moment. While many retailers have seen a decline in sales since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, hardware stores have not. In fact, there has been a significant uptick in home-related purchases.

During a time when so many people are coping with uncertainty, worry, and grief, DIY activities provide a bit of respite from the storm. And it turns out that along with the opportunity to improve and customize your space to your liking, tackling a home improvement project can have mental health benefits, too.

Related: 21 Home Improvement Projects to Put on Your To-Do List for 2021

Working With Your Hands

Our ancestors performed significantly more manual labor than we do today—building shelter, growing food, forging tools, hand-washing clothes. Modern technology has gradually eliminated the need for us to toil so much with our hands, yet anyone who regularly digs in a garden can attest to the benefits of this type of work. In her research into the “effort-driven rewards circuit,” 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.”

Disconnecting From Devices

In a constantly plugged-in world, it’s more important than ever to find ways to disconnect. When our heads are buried in social media, we are not fully present, and this can have negative effects on our mental health. In fact, 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.

Related: 10 Ways People Have Been Paring Down Possessions During the Pandemic

A Sense of Accomplishment

There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the fruit of your labor, and the harder you work, the more gratifying it feels. When you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into a project, your work gains value and becomes part of you. And long after the work is finished, you continue to experience the satisfaction of living in an environment that you had a hand in creating.

Increasing Self-Reliance

If you dislike having to rely on others to fix things for you, then it may be time to put on some overalls and challenge yourself to learn a few new skills. As your DIY ability and home improvement knowledge grow, so does your self-reliance. The result? Greater confidence, not to mention less worry when something breaks or malfunctions.

A Bonding Activity

Whether it’s with a partner, a child, or a roommate, embarking on a DIY project together can provide an opportunity for bonding. Sharing a mutual goal, combining strengths, helping each other, and negotiating decisions together can foster a sense of teamwork and bring people closer. And, of course, admiring a finished project is sweeter when shared. DIYing can also open you up to a whole new online community where you can make friends, swap ideas, and offer support.

Related: Child Safety During Home Renovations

Learning New Things

Because each home project offers its own set of challenges, it’s virtually impossible to get through one without learning something new. As you learn new skills, you expand your DIY smarts and gain confidence. As well, the planning and organizational skills you develop during your projects can carry over to other areas of your life. So maybe this weekend, try putting down the Sunday crossword puzzle and picking up a home improvement project instead.

A Welcome Distraction

There’s a lot to think and worry about these days. Some of us can easily go down the doom spiral when left with too much time on our hands. Although it’s important to sit with your feelings, and even share them, it can be nice to take a break from thinking so much. A DIY project gives you the chance to put on some music, roll up your sleeves, and get immersed in manual labor.

Related: 60-Minute DIY Projects

Building Perseverance

During a home project, it’s not uncommon to run into unexpected roadblocks. To overcome them, DIYers need to become resilient problem solvers who can, when necessary, stop, take a deep breath, and change course. This ability to pivot and get creative can carry over to other parts of life where flexibility is important.

Moving Your Body

For those who sit at a desk five days a week, activities that require some level of physicality can be a welcome change. While certain DIY projects are more physically taxing than others, many require movements such as digging, squatting, reaching, and lifting. All of that activity is good for both your body and mind, improving strength and coordination while warding off depression and anxiety.

Related: 12 Jobs to Do Around the House Instead of Going to the Gym