A Daily Activity to Decrease Anxiety

Want to reduce anxiety and family stress? I learned a surprising way to do it. A study by Adam Hanley has documented a daily activity that reduces anxiety by 27%! This same activity increased “mental inspiration” in his test group by 25%. And, all this happened in response to a simple six minute activity—washing dishes! Wait, don’t quit reading yet. I know it sounds crazy; and, truthfully, it did include a little more than “just” washing dishes. Mother And Son Doing LaundryLet me explain. In this study, two groups were asked to wash dishes. One performed the six-minute task in the usual way. They simply washed the dishes and let their mind wander from distraction to distraction. The second group was encouraged to focus on the sensory experience of washing dishes. They were told to focus on the smell of the soap, the feel and shape of the dishes, the sensation of the water and soap on their hands, etc.  Doing the dishes in this manner, a “mindful manner,” resulted in the positive impact. It increased the perception of time slowing down, an enjoyable perspective for all of us who feel rushed. Focusing on the here and now sensations of washing dishes also decreased anxiety by 27% and increased “mental inspiration” by 25% compared to the control group.

 

This study focused on dishwashing, but the results suggest that performing any household task in a “mindful manner” (one in which you focus on the here and now sensations) may have a similar effect. Prior to this study, mindful activities have been shown to decrease negative moods and contribute to improved sleep. This study suggests mindful activities also give the pleasurable sensation of time slowing down, decreasing anxiety, and increasing mental inspiration. With all these benefits, why not make it a point to be mindful during all your household chores? While you’re at it, teach your kids to complete chores in a mindful manner. Imagine…a family that completes simple household tasks while focusing on the here and now sensations of that task, will become less anxious, less moody, filled with more mental inspiration, and find they sleep better. Sounds like a good deal to me!

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