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Study Finds Washing Dishes Can Significantly Relieve Stress and Boost Well-being

Study Finds Washing Dishes Can Significantly Relieve Stress and Boost Well-being

Many of us like to listen to soothing music or settle down in front of the TV after a long, stressful day to calm our weary minds. But what if you tried washing the dishes instead to calm your mind?

No, really. A new study published in the journal Mindfulness reports that dishwashing is a great way to relieve stress and it can actually boost mental well-being.

If you have already figured out that dishwashing can be a good activity for relaxation, there is now scientific proof that your least favorite chore might also be benefiting your mind.

“We hypothesized that, relative to a control condition, participants receiving mindful dishwashing instruction would evidence greater state mindfulness, attentional awareness, and positive affect, as well as reduce negative affect and lead to overestimations of time spent dishwashing,” wrote the study authors at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

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After conducting their study, the researchers at Florida State University found that engaging in mindful dishwashing, which entails focusing on the smell of the soap, the warmth of the water and the feel of the dishes, can indeed trigger a positive state of mind.

How it works

“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,” wrote the study authors. In other words, one should wash dishes mindfully.

Mindfulness is the practice of omitting negative or distracting thoughts to allow for complete awareness of one’s own feelings and senses in the present moment. It has been shown to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, lower risk for depression and contribute to improved sleep quality.

In this particular study, co-author Adam Hanley — a doctoral candidate in the College of Education’s Counseling and School Psychology Program at Florida State University — and colleagues set out to investigate whether a positive state of mind could be achieved through a simple day-to-day activity like dishwashing.

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Hanley and team recruited 51 students in their early 20s for the study. Slightly over half of the subjects were provided with a 230-word passage to read that emphasized the sensory experience of dishwashing. The other half of participants, who acted as controls, read a similar-length passage that stressed proper dishwashing techniques. Both subject groups gave their interpretations of the reading in writing and verbally. Then each washed 18 clean dishes.

“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.” notes Hanley. Elsewhere, he says he was pleasantly surprised by the study results.

The study results

Positive and negative personality traits, psychological well-being and mindful state were assessed before and after the dishwashing exercise.

The researchers observed that nervous rating decreased by 27% in mindful dishwashing, while mental inspiration increased by 25%. Both changes were statistically significant and reflected a substantial experiential shift, said the researchers.

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Moreover, mindful dishwashing heightened the sense of time pleasurably slowing down, wrote the researchers. On the other hand, the control group didn’t experience any benefits.

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

What this means for you

Mindfulness coupled with household chores can make for a happier and less stressed you. “The sheer monotony and physical nature of washing-up, coupled with the sense of achievement gained from completing a simple act, makes us feel good,” says Dr. Aric Sigman, a researcher.

In fact, you don’t have to relinquish your automatic dishwasher if you don’t want to reap these benefits. You can get the same benefits of mindful dishwashing from nearly all neutral household activities when accomplished mindfully. That means mindfully raking the leaves in your backyard, vacuuming the floors in your house or even doing the laundry could be equally beneficial for your mind and body.

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Even enjoying your morning cup of coffee mindfully, taking in the heat of the mug, smell of the roast and taste of the drink could be helpful. As would taking advantage of time in the shower — focusing on the way the water feels on your skin, the sound of the water hitting the tab and the smell of your bathing soap.

Turns out your mundane day-to-day activities and dreary household chores could actually be a lot more worthwhile than you thought.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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