We often crib about doing the household chores – a pile of dishes to be done, unswept rooms, organizing the cupboard, ironing, dusting all appear like thankless jobs that are pestering us, especially when we want to do something more pleasurable like watch TV or a movie.
But a recent research has shown that mundane activities like dishwashing promote mental well being.
Research done at FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program, found that people who washed dishes with present moment awareness improved their feelings of inspiration by 25% and lowered their anxious feelings by 27%. The group that didn’t wash the dishes mindfully did not gain any benefits from the task.
The net takeaway is, “It appears that an everyday activity approached with intentionality and awareness may enhance the state of mindfulness,” according to the authors.
Present moment is the only moment available to us, they say and living in it and living with the breath is what Zen gurus have always advocated. So while doing dishes if you focus on the smell of the soap, the bubbles that form, the water temperature, the type of the scourer, the scratches on the dishes, listening to the squeak of the clean dishes, you are likely to have better mental fitness. Same goes for other cleaning activities like dusting and mopping.
The study size was very small with only 51 students, so it would need to be replicated, but the researchers suggest that mindfulness could be achieved in a variety of common activities, and possibly reduce stress and improve psychological well-being.
Research is propping up what is known to every serious housekeeper, cleanliness is next to Godliness. Millions of housewives in the world who do nothing but scrub, clean, dust, polish and buff repeatedly will vouch for that statement.
But a few exceptional ones take to cleaning as a manner of destressing. Whenever that ball of anger or frustration rises and threatens to overpower, the hand just seizes hold of the nearest duster and swish-swash, swish-swash it goes, getting the dust out of every nook and cranny. The carpet gets vacuumed, the cobwebs pulled down and the tiles get a scrubbing. Tiredness aches every muscle of the body but nothing can beat the sense of satisfaction of a clean sparkling home.
Perhaps it is time to sack the maid and pick up the mop and the duster, and save yourself the money spent on going to counselors for that elusive peace of mind.