For many, washing dishes is a chore similar to doing the laundry or taking out the trash. A new study, however, finds that washing the dishes in a meaningful way may actually calm the mind and relieve stress.
Researchers from Florida State University (FSU) looked at whether washing dishes could be used as an informal contemplative practice that promotes a positive state of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a common meditative method of focusing attention on the emotions and thoughts of the present moment.
Study findings have been published in the journal Mindfulness.
“I’ve had an interest in mindfulness for many years, both as a contemplative practitioner and a researcher,” said Adam Hanley, a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program and one of the study’s authors.
“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.”
After conducting a study with 51 students, the researchers found that mindful dishwashers — those who focused on the smell of the soap, the warmth of the water, the feel of the dishes — reported a decrease in nervousness by 27 percent and an increase in mental inspiration by 25 percent.
The control group, on the other hand, didn’t experience any benefits.