Martin Roberts: The DIY guide to life
PUBLISHED: 15:37 24 July 2017
This month our columnist explores the mental toolbox you may need in order to tackle life's repair jobs
When was the last time you did something completely out of your comfort zone? I seem to remember some eminent boffin from the sidelines of psychology who suggested you should do something that scares you at least once a day.
Apparently, it sharpens the senses and releases caveman hormones that remind our bodies of our simple beginnings. In the absence of sabre-toothed tiger perils, we now have to manufacture crisis in order to fire on all cylinders. There’s probably a book out there called The Caveman Survival Ethos Diet, which includes a healthy dollop of pure fear served with a side order of adrenaline rush.
I’m not so sure. My dad is a great example of the opposite. To paraphrase a famous Monty Python sketch, ‘you could wire him up to 10,000 volts and he still wouldn’t go voom’.
He’s so laid back, he’s virtually horizontal. While mum and I would tear around like blue-bottomed flies, he would need a jolt from a rocket motor to push him out of first gear.
However, he’s just about to celebrate his 84th birthday, so who’s to say which psychological approach to life’s everyday challenges is the right one.
Certainly, stress is generally regarded as one of the hidden killers of the 21st century and doing what you can to reduce it should be top of most people’s lists for a healthy life. A very wise friend of mine described it as creating your own mental toolbox that you store on an imaginary shelf and bring down in times of need.
Everybody’s toolbox will be different and contain very personalised remedies that will help when required. The ‘tools’ can be anything that works for you to take you to a happier or less stressful place. They can be physical things like walking the dog, baking a cake, watching a movie, doing a bit of gardening, playing a musical instrument or doing some art or craft activity. Or they can be just things that you think about to distract your brain from whatever negative swirl it’s got itself into. Remembering a happy family moment, a funny experience with friends, reciting a poem in your head or singing the words of a favourite song.
Years ago such a seemingly esoteric process as taking down your imaginary toolbox and using it to help you cope would probably have been laughed at. But as science and medicine slowly catch up with common sense, such empirically successful strategies are finally getting an official seal of approval.
So, as for doing something that scares you everyday, that’s probably something to consider, but just make sure you’ve got your toolbox to hand in case it all goes wrong!
Martin’s new weekly property radio show is on TalkRadio every Saturday morning- broadcast live from his treehouse in Somerset from 11am-1pm, repeated Sundays 5-7pm. Listen on DAB or online at TalkRadio.co.uk.