Doing the dishes can be a dreaded household task. Partly because of the fact that it’s a never-ending chore. Even if you wash, dry and put away every last dish in your kitchen, you’re going to have a new batch of dirty dishes to deal with in short order.
But unless you resolve to dine out for every meal or eat off of disposable dishes and utensils, washing dishes will remain a necessary task. However, it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle every time. There’s actually a way to make doing the dishes more pleasant, and it’s backed by science. The key is approaching the task mindfully, which actually transforms it from chore to stress reliever.
The effects of mindfulness while doing the dishes were studied by researchers at Florida State University. The results of their study were published in the journal Mindfulness. The researchers had 51 students wash dishes. Before they began, half of the students read a short mindfulness dishwashing passage, while the other half read a descriptive passage about dishwashing. Those who read the mindfulness passage increased their feelings of inspiration by 25 percent and lowered their feelings of nervousness by 27 percent. Those who read the descriptive passage did not gain any benefits.
Mindfulness involves focusing intensely on the task at hand and being fully present. In this case, the study’s participants focused on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature and touching the dishes. According to Mindful.org, mindfulness can be practiced by anyone and can have positive effects on health, happiness, relationships and work.
Although the sample size was small, the researchers hope that their findings could be an indication that completing a variety of common tasks with mindfulness could produce similar results.
“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,” they wrote.
If you need even more inspiration to hit the sink, both Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates say they wash the dishes every night.