Most people live increasingly busy lives, so it’s important to take the time to do something that relaxes the mind. Toolstation researched the most calming DIY tasks around the home, encouraging homeowners to pick up their rakes and paintbrushes and get stuck into some relaxing home maintenance.

To find which tasks were the most calming, over 100,000 Reddit comments about DIY were processed through a sentiment analysis, which picked out the emotions associated with different DIY tasks.  

The 10 most calming DIY tasks

Data taken from Reddit shows that homeowners find gardening to be the most calming task of all. 

Following closely behind are interior design and wallpapering in second and third, showing a positive attitude towards interior aesthetics. Shelving takes fourth place in the rank, with many people finding it therapeutic to create and install their own shelves. Finally, tiling scores well with homeowners, earning its place in the top five most calming DIY tasks. 

Surprisingly, Brits also like to kick back and relax by cleaning their gutters, which takes spot number six in the rank. Feng shui was also found to be a calming task, as well as woodworking, weeding and painting. 

Rank DIY TasksJoy Expressed CountPositivity Expressed CountTotal Count of Emotion Percent PositivePercent JoyMost Calming Score (out of 100)
1Gardening Plants4,1607,475 25,756 16% 29% 97 
Interior Design 5881,3064,393 13% 30% 89 
Wallpapering 74 159 558 13% 28% 87 
Shelving 205 644 2,171 9% 30% 77 
Tiling 373 1,351 4,337 9% 31% 77 
Gutter Cleaning 121 388 1,313 9% 30% 76 
Feng Shui 474 1,459 5,020 9% 29% 76 
Woodworking Projects 865 2,895 9,785 9% 30% 75 
Lawn Weeding 728 1,654 6,638 11% 25% 74 
10 Painting 535 1,660 6,083 9% 27% 73 

(Source; Reddit Sentiment Analysis, 2023) 

Psychologist explains the calming effects of gardening

Dr Gurpreet Kaur, Clinical Psychologist, explains why people find gardening to be such a calming task:

“Being surrounded by greenery and engaging in gardening aligns with our evolutionary connection to natural environments, fostering a sense of well-being. Exposure to greenery, soil, and plants can trigger positive emotional responses and contribute to a sense of tranquillity. It can also help with mindfulness as gardening requires a focus on the present moment whilst incorporating natural elements into human environments. 

“Gardening can help with stress reduction as ecotherapy, the interaction with nature, has been linked to the regulation of cortisol, the stress hormone. Spending time in a garden environment may help lower cortisol levels, promoting a sense of calmness and reducing stress. It is often used for therapeutic benefits for the treatment of various mental health conditions due to its ability to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. This may be related to the tactile element which engages multiple senses, including touch, sight, and smell. The tactile sensations of handling soil and plants can be soothing and provide a sensory-rich experience that contributes to relaxation.”

How to relax when gardening

Rhiannon Moore, from Toolstation, provides some extra advice to make gardening as calming as possible:

“When gardening, good quality tools make a world of difference. Ensuring that your tools are sturdy and comfortable to hold will reduce how much effort you must put in, meaning you’ll tire less quickly. Keep your tools well-maintained, as dull tools will result in a lot more elbow grease from you. Wearing gloves is helpful too, not only keeping your hands clean but also protecting them from any potential scrapes or insect bites.

“Try to break down your gardening into small chunks, reserving certain times of day for relaxation in your garden. Garden maintenance can quickly build up, so it’s better to keep up with this regularly than for it to become a larger chore later. A few minutes of weeding every few days is a great chance to escape the business of daily life, and your garden will thank you for it too.”

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