Do you eye that ever-growing pile of dishes in the sink with dread? While it might seem tedious, washing dishes helps relieve stress, according to research. There is one catch, however.

A study conducted by researchers at Florida State University found that washing dishes could be a significant stress reliever—if you do it mindfully. What does “doing the dishes mindfully” mean, exactly? While you wash dishes you should remain completely focused on the task, remaining completely aware of the fact that you’re washing dishes. In other words, no yelling at the kids to turn off the iPads or making mental shopping lists while you wash.

photo: Chanikarn Thongsupa via Rawpixel

The researchers found that people who washed dishes mindfully—participants focused on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature and touching the dishes—increased their feelings of inspiration by 25 percent and lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent. “It appears that an everyday activity approached with intentionality and awareness may enhance the state of mindfulness,” the study authors conclude.

The study was very small, with just 51 participants, but if you have been looking for a way to squeeze in some meditation in your overloaded day, you just might try a little dish scrubbing.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

 

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