Doing Dishes Relieves Stress— If You Do It Right

Mindfulness can be achieved through the most mundane everyday activities
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2015 8:02 AM CDT
Doing Dishes Relieves Stress— If You Do It Right
"While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes."   (Shutterstock)

Washing the dishes can be a calming activity, and not just because it's repetitive. Reporting in the journal Mindfulness, Florida State University researchers say that those who do it mindfully (i.e., really smelling the soap, sensing the water temperature) enjoy increased feelings of inspiration and decreased nervousness. Not only that, but the participants who didn't practice mindfulness didn't reap any benefits. "It appears that an everyday activity approached with intentionality and awareness may enhance the state of mindfulness," they conclude. To test this, researchers recruited 51 students to wash dishes, having half first read this brief mindfulness dishwashing passage written by Thich Nhat Hanh and the other half first read a few descriptive lines about dishwashing.

The mindfulness passage includes the lines: "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." The study is small, but the research suggests that mindfulness can be achievable through the most mundane, everyday activities, reports Time, turning chores into a chance to potentially lower stress levels. For better or worse, the researchers also noted that the "mindful dishwashers" reported overestimations of dishwashing time. (This study suggests you give up your dishwasher.)

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