LIVING HEALTHY Published October4, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

Relax! Wash the Dishes

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A Good Boy
(Photo : Susan Schiff Faludi | Hulton Archive)

While not all of us are a huge fan of doing the dishes, this routine household chore may help improve our state of being and relieve us from stress, says a new study now published in Mindfulness.

A team of researchers from Florida State University has decided to identify if washing the dishes can promote peace of mind, relieve stress, and encourage mindfulness.

Mindfulness is defined as a meditative technique of calming both the mind and the body by allowing the person to focus on a specific activity or an object. A common example is giving more attention to one's breathing. However, it's also possible to exercise mindfulness even when a person is doing an activity such as washing the dishes. The team chose dishwashing too because of the many possible sensory experiences one can go through.

How does one become mindful when washing the dishes? For the study, the group recruited 51 students who were barely in their twenties. They underwent as series of tests including whether they enjoy dishwashing. They were then divided into two groups, one of which acted as the control.

Before they were asked to wash less than 20 clean dishes, they each had to read similar-length passages, though the content was different. One of the groups read an excerpt to heighten the sensory experience and encourage mindfulness. The control, meanwhile, read instructions on the correct way of washing the dishes. The team then requested both groups to interpret the passages by writing or by oral.

Based on the results, those who practiced mindful dishwashing like focusing on the soap's smell or the temperature of the water experienced more than 26% decrease of anxiety or nervousness. Their mental inspiration went up by over 23%. The students also reported the feeling as if time moved slow, giving them more opportunity to think better and more clearly. These changes were deemed significant shift in emotions by the researchers. These changes were not seen among the control group. 

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