You may be the type to put off dishwashing until the sink is jam-packed, but new scientific findings may make you more eager to clean up. A study published in the journal Mindfulness found that washing dishes mindfully could be therapeutic, increasing feelings of well-being and decreasing nervousness.
To wash dishes "mindfully" means to do so with intention and focus, contemplating the sensory experiences of the act like the warmth of the water, the feel of dishes and the smell of the soap.
This is precisely what some study participants were instructed to do while washing 18 dishes. The control group, on the other hand, washed 18 dishes without the mindfulness instruction. Instead, they were given directives relating to proper dishwashing techniques. The experimental group reported increased positivity and decreased nervousness, while the control group reported no change.
You don't have to relinquish your automatic dishwasher to get these perks; dishwashing is not unique in its ability to benefit people when done mindfully. Nearly any neutral activity, when accomplished with mindfulness, can yield similar results. Carrying out a mindfulness meditation while in the shower, for example, could be an equally helpful practice: You'd consciously focus on the way the water feels against your skin, the sound of the water hitting the tub and the smell of your shampoo, rather than letting your mind drift randomly to different thoughts.
The same can be done over your morning cup of coffee, taking in the smell of the roast and the heat of the mug. Doing the laundry, raking the leaves, vacuuming the floors -- these are all activities that can be turned into a kind of meditation. Your dreary chores just got a lot more worthwhile.
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