Why we turn to obscure household projects during lockdown | FT

The FT’s James Sandy talks to psychologist Rachel Allan about how ‘little victories’ around the house can boost motivation, reduce stress, and help find meaning during the coronavirus crisis.

Have you been doing some unusual stuff around the home recently you know little odd jobs maybe some new challenges in general just making a huge huge deal out of things which shouldn’t take you any time at all if you’re anything like me the answer is yes but don’t worry we are not alone compared to this time last year uk sales of baking ingredients are up

63 diy supplies are up 64 and gardening products like bulbs and seeds are up 132 percent home improvement might seem like an obvious choice while most of us are stuck inside but as my own to-do list became increasingly random i started to question my need to get on with tasks so i decided to talk to a psychologist about it in the last week or two it kind of

Feels like i’m just trying to find things to keep my hands busy in a way and it’s that sort of normal behavior in times of crisis it’s what keeps us going activity is what keeps us going and if you’re somebody who is used to working and being active and then suddenly finding that a lot of your normal structure and routine is taken away or feeling very different

Then it’s absolutely natural that you would seek to reconstruct some kind of routine into your day-to-day life i know that a lot of people have been doing challenges on social media board game sales have gone through the roof lots of people i’ve been talking to though have been turning to diy is it an element of trying to sort of control the environment as well

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Perhaps well at the moment with so much being outside of our control it really makes sense to focus on the things that we can control many people would probably um place a level of importance on their home so to invest something in developing that space that carries meaning for us and then it tends to make us feel better and add more richness to our lives i’ve

Been telling people on the video team at the ft about some of the things i’ve been doing and um yeah there’s there’s a fair bit of eye rolling sometimes um a lot of them have young kids so i’m sure that home improvements and things like that are kind of quite far from their thoughts right now is there a certain type of person who’s looking for these little

Victories in a way it doesn’t matter so much what the activity is or what the behavior is what matters is that it is connected to a sense of enjoyment or accomplishment and that that is reflected by our wider value system and that doesn’t mean that it has to be a sort of massive and impressive domestic and transformation or anything like that for some of us

That just means keeping going through all of this keeping the household together keeping everybody safe and well it sounds like we are we’ve all got different ways of going about it but everyone i suppose is trying to come to terms with the new situation do you have a message for people who are feeling anxious and maybe a bit uncertain right now people are


Dealing with the uncertainty that’s going on the threat of illness the reality of illness loss in many cases i would say any behavioral response anything that you find that if you do it you feel a little bit better it’s probably a helpful thing to do but i would emphasize certainly not to expect that to look the same for um for any one of us because this is

A very unusual situation that we’re in dr alan i couldn’t agree more with you on that and um i i feel a bit vindicated then for for the things i’ve been doing amongst all my peers who’ve just got so much on right now i’m a little worried actually about running out of things to do now um so the main thing that’s been the most difficult to to capture on video

For me has been trying to sort of map the sleeping habits of my cat he’s not playing ball so i think even if we’re in lockdown for another month or more um that’ll still offer some challenges i’m sure having a cat always helps i find yeah he’s he’s he’s around somewhere as well he’s a trickster um well great thank you so much you too take care james cheers bye bye

Transcribed from video
Why we turn to obscure household projects during lockdown | FT By Financial Times

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