If a look at the piling dishes in the kitchen sink after a long day gives you a headache, just take a deep breath and plunge into action. New research has found that washing dishes with full concentration may calm the mind and reduce your stress.
The study looked at whether washing dishes could be used as an informal contemplative practice that promotes a positive state of mindfulness —a meditative method of focusing attention on the emotions and thoughts of the present moment.
“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,” said one of the study’s authors Adam Hanley from Florida State University in the US.
“We hypothesised that, relative to a control condition, participants receiving mindful dishwashing instruction would evidence greater state mindfulness, attentional awareness, and positive affect, as well as reduce negative affect and lead to overestimations of time spent dishwashing,” the researchers said.
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, did not experience any benefits. 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, said the study was published in the journal Mindfulness.