Admit it: doing household chores is not really that fun, especially on days when our to-do list seems endless. One of the chores that many don't look forward to is dealing with the dishes, especially when faced with greasy plates and pans.
But despite how sick you might be of washing dishes, a study from Florida State University (FSU) has found that this task can actually lower your stress levels — if you do it mindfully, that is.
The group of researchers, led by FSU doctoral candidate Adam Hanley, asked 51 students to wash some dishes. Before starting on the task, the participants were instructed to read passages about dishwashing: Half were given a straightforward passage that described the task of dishwashing, while the other half had to read a passage that focused on being mentally present for the task of washing dishes.
The said passage encouraged participants to put emphasis on the experience of dishwashing — for instance, on the temperature of the water, on the sensation of the plates and utensils, and even on the scent of the dishwashing soap. To get even more of an idea of what “mindful dishwashing involves, here is an excerpt from the said passage, as shared bySouthern Living:
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“While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes. This means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the group of participants who washed dishes mindfully experienced a 25% increase in feelings of inspiration and a 27% decrease in feelings of nervousness. On the other hand, the participants who read the descriptive passages did not gain any benefits.
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The findings of the study prove that while dishwashing is not always the most fun task to do at home, there is a way to make the most of it — by simply focusing on the experience. As the study authors concluded, “It appears that an everyday activity approached with intentionality and awareness may enhance the state of mindfulness.”
So next time you find yourself groaning at the prospect of tackling yet another load of dirty dishes, just chill! Concentrate on the flowing water and even the smell of your favorite dish soap, and you might just feel your stress melting away, helping you get energized for the rest of the day.