Washing dishes is a household chore that many people dread, but a new study shows that this activity could offer stress relief and even improve your mental health in some cases. The key is in the mindfulness of the activity. If you focus on the task at hand and keep yourself in the present moment then washing dishes can have stress relief and health benefits. Being mindful means eliminating distractions and negative thoughts and instead focusing on right here and right now. Concentrate on the sight of the bubbles, the warm water on your hands, the feel of the dishes as you wash them, and even the pleasant smell of the dish soap. Studies have shown that people who are mindful have a lower risk for depression and some other mental health conditions, they tend to sleep better and wake more rested, they usually have less anxiety, and they have lower levels of chronic stress responses regardless of the daily stress experienced.
The study on mindful washing dishes and stress relief was designed to see if this mundane household chore could result in a positive state of mind. According to the study co-author, College of Education’s Counseling and School Psychology Program at Florida State University doctoral candidate Adam Hanley “I’ve had an interest in mindfulness for many years, both as a contemplative practitioner and a researcher. I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increase overall sense of well-being.” Hanley also noted that “By attending, intentionally to the dishes in front of them, the mindful dishwashers were likely to be less swept up in the stream of mental chatter that can preoccupy daily life. Stress, worries and concerns are often fueled by this chatter. Grounding themselves in the present moment may have allowed the mindful dishwashers to take a break from reminiscing over the past or planning for the future, pausing to just simply be in the present moment at the sink.”