It’s all in the perception: Chores such as washing dishes can cause or relieve stress, depending on attitude, according to recent study
12/14/2017 // Rita Winters // Views

City life causes so much physical, emotional, and psychological stress on people. Stress relief and mental peace are the most common reasons for city dwellers to take a vacation. But relief, apparently, can be found in the comfort of your own home. Doing household chores can reduce stress and offer peace of mind. A study from Florida State University (FSU) found that washing the dishes may improve mental health and overall well-being.

Published in the journal Mindfulness, the study associated the household chore of washing dishes with peace of mind and stress relief, especially when done conscientiously. The study was led by Adam Hanley, a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education's counseling/School of Psychology; together with Alia Warner and Vincent Delhili, doctoral candidates at FSU; Angela Canto, assistant professor at the same university; and Eric Garland, associate professor at the University of Utah. The paper, entitled “Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice”, included 51 college students engaged in either a mindful or controlled dish washing practice.

Hanley's study found that mindful dishwashers experienced greater states of mindfulness, increases in positive affect factors (such as inspiration), significant decreases in negative affect factors (such as nervousness and anxiety), and adjustments in overestimating the time it takes to complete the task. The control group's task was to read a descriptive passage about dish washing, while the other group were required to read a mindful passage about dish washing. The latter group's passage emphasized mental focus on the task at hand.


Results from the experimental group indicated that there was a 27 percent reduction in nervousness and a 25 percent increase in mental inspiration, as compared to the control group. On the other hand, the control group did not experience any benefit from dish washing. The researchers stated that mindful dish washing can be an effective method for achieving a positive mental state and decreasing stress from external factors. Mindfulness may also be applicable to other home-based activities such as general cleaning, washing clothes, or even cooking. The lead researcher's goal was to find ways in which run-of-the-mill activities can be used to promote self-awareness and mindfulness, and significantly improve the quality of life of an individual.

Mindfulness is a psychological process by which an individual focuses on experiences that are happening in the moment. These include external factors such as the individual's environment or current location; and activities, simple or complicated, which the individual is presently doing like walking, shuffling papers, or even sitting down. Mindfulness has a lot of benefits including self-control, affect tolerance, improved concentration, emotional intelligence, and mental clarity. Many programs and techniques are available today that teach the practice of being mindful. Most of these programs are accessible by anyone, and are even free of charge. Meditation and yoga are some examples of mindfulness practices offered publicly in some states. Some schools offer breathing lessons to help children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) take control over their tendency to be impulsive and their hyperactivity.

There are many ways by which an individual can feel stressed, especially in urban locations. Time is also a factor in stress, because tasks are based on it. If there is a lack of time, only a few tasks are usually completed, causing mental stress on the individual. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes health as an state of overall well-being, and not just the absence of disease. Well-being encompasses the physical, mental, social, and emotional aspects of a person. That being said, mindfulness is one way to attain well-being, because it promotes mental inspiration, a positive aspect of mental health. Following this trend, mental disorders such as depression and excessive anxiety may be treated with simple acts of mindfulness.

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