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Washing Dishes Mindfully Can Benefit Your Mind And Reduce Your Stress Levels, According To Science


Different people manage stress in different ways. Some listen to music, read a book, or watch a movie, and others do physical exercises or hang out with their family and/or friends. And one study shows that even the most ordinary and most tedious of tasks can reduce your stress levels, such as washing the dishes.

If it has never occurred to you that dishwashing can be an effective way to calm your mind and relax, there’s now scientific proof that washing the dishes mindfully might be beneficial to your mind and reduce your stress levels.

So, the question is: What does “washing the dishes mindfully” actually mean?

Here’s what the authors of the study wrote:

“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.”

Co-author Adam W. Hanley and colleagues recruited 51 undergraduate students for the study. Half of the students were assigned to read a short mindfulness dishwashing passage and the other half were assigned to read a short descriptive dishwashing passage.

What the authors of the study found was that participants that did the dishes mindfully, i.e. they focused on feeling the temperature of the water, smelling the soap, and touching the dishes, increased their feeling of inspiration by 25 percent and reduced their stress levels by 27 percent. And participants that did not do the dishes mindfully didn’t derive any benefits from the task.

The researchers also wrote: “Implications for these findings are diverse and suggest that mindfulness as well as positive affect could be cultivated through intentionally engaging in a broad range of activities.”

So, it turns out that your tedious, everyday household chores could, in fact, be a lot more beneficial than you thought.