Yes, you read the headline correctly. According to a new study just published in the journal Mindfulness, washing dishes can significantly reduce stress.
Adam Hanley, one of the study authors and a doctoral candidate in Florida State University’s College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program, said in a statement: “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.”
The investigative group had hoped to learn if washing dishes could actually serve as an informal contemplative practice to strengthen emotional wellbeing and encourage mindfulness. A previous study indicated that subjects who focus on the dishes and planning their actions experience less stress.
The past work also indicated that washing dishes in a mindful fashion—concentrating on the shape and feel of the dishes, the scent of the soap and so forth—noticeably increased mental stimulation and lowered nervousness in the subjects washing dishes compared to a control group who received no benefits. Previous research has also linked greater psychological well-being with altered time perception.
The researchers from FSU studied a total of 51 participants. Each student was instructed to wash 18 dishes that were already clean. The subjects outside of the control group were given two different specific directives concerning dishwashing.
The study revealed that the subjects who washed dishes completely aware and focused on such things as the smell of the soap, the temperature of the water and the feel of the dishes had a 25 percent increase in inspirational emotions and experienced a 27 percent reduction in feelings of anxiety.
Results demonstrate that the way one approaches the process of dishwashing is key. The researchers admitted they are uncertain if the results would be the same if their subjects had washed dirty dishes. Hanley and his team concluded: ‘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”.
Washing Dishes Reduces Stress