Practicing mindfulness in simple everyday tasks to big projects, can actually help relax the mind, reduce the risk for stress-related ailments and promote mental well-being.Here’s how.
Doing chores whether it is washing dishes, sweeping, laundry even eating, are all considered mindless tasks, where we do these seemingly boring chores or tasks while overthinking or letting our minds wander, which is said to further induce stress, make us easily distracted, inadvertently making those tasks feel heavy not enjoyable. As they say, it’s all in the mind. Carrying out tasks with a different mindset can actually have tons of therapeutic benefits. All you have to do is change how you perceive what you do, and be mindful of your, well, mind while you do them.1
Mindfulness: Studies And Their Benefits
Florida State University Study
As evidence of this mind-trick the researchers from Florida State University (FSU) carried out an experiment where 51 students were to try putting a mindfulness and/or dish-washing passage that they read, into practice. What seemed silly at first then started to make sense as they did what the passage said and tried to be completely conscious of the fact that they are washing dishes. Not seeing it as a chore or stressful task, that they need not have to be. They focused on their breathing, relaxed their shoulders, putting full focus on each action and thought, the smell of the dish washing liquid, the feeling of warm water running down their fingers, the dish slowly becoming clean with each scrub, etc.
Benefits: Relaxed, Inspired, Less Anxious
Soon that mundane activity turned into a trick for mental relaxation. Soon, those who practiced this mindful manner of washing dishes felt inspired and less anxious.
A Swedish Study
In the US and most parts of Europe, using a dish-washer is the norm and to test if hand-washing dishes had possible benefits, an experiment was conducted with over 1000 kids in Sweden, whose households were told to hand-wash their dishes instead of using the dish-washers. Researchers said that although the dishwashers use extremely hot water that logically kills more bacteria on the dishes, it does not really scrub them to get some dirt out, which obviously becomes counterproductive.
Benefits: Mindfulness, Hygiene, Immunity
Besides the mental benefits of mindfully hand-washing dishes, those who were living in homes where the dishes were hand-washed, showed more immunity to their allergies than those who relied on dishwashers. It also enabled a lower chance of bad microbial residue on the dishes, proven to be beneficial and more hygienic for their physical well-being. This counts especially in reducing their chances of getting asthma, hay fever, dust allergies and even eczema.
Mindfulness Programs in Schools and Workplaces Across The World
Studies show that mindfulness does not have to stop at washing dishes, but can be applied absolutely anywhere, with such programs being brought to schools and even workplaces, some coming under the banner of ‘Mindful Schools’. Around 10,000 adults all over America and about 100 other countries are starting to carry out mindfulness programs, which has had a positive impact on close to 300,000 children and teenagers.
Benefits: Reduced Aggression and Stress Levels, Improved Resilience
Some students who were previously very volatile or aggressive started to communicate their issues instead of physically lashing out. It also helped kids to teens and even adults, manage their stress levels, be less temperamental, pay more attention, grasp and recall more concepts and details from what they learn or work on. Over 22,000 companies have put this program into practice, including General Mills and Google, who provide their employees, eight-week ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’ programs. This has help their employees’ manage their stress levels, improve their resilience, and bolster their productivity, with a simple one-hour session per week.
So why not give it a try yourself? Here are some ways to turn any chore or routine task into a little meditation-like session. Then notice how relaxed you feel and how much you get done without realizing it.
Focus, Put Everything Else Aside
Instead of zoning out when mopping, by actually putting your full concentration into it, try focusing on the sounds of water swishing across the floor and seeing it wipe the ground. Apparently merely concentrating on the task is said to help reduce stress levels. So, try rewiring your mind to do your chores calmly not in a rushed or anxious state, like the way you try to meet those stressful deadlines.
Appreciate The Present
By paying attention to chores, it actually puts that busy mind at ease and helps you focus on the moment or as they say, the ‘now’. Letting all those distractions slide by and not getting too caught up in whatever keeps you on edge. Some Ayurveda doctors also say this can be applied while eating or drinking, by savoring each morsel of food or each sip of your drink, to really taste it, you don’t reduce it to a mere task but make it an experience.
Keep It Simple
When doing the chores, sometimes it can be a mindless task such as folding clothes and putting them in your closet. So in those moments, try focusing on your breathing and simplify any thought that is heavy with emotion or doubt and turn them into factual affirmations instead. For example, instead of “What if I mess up my interview tomorrow?” think “I have an interview tomorrow”. This helps your mind rest and not go into overdrive with those projections.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
Whether you just got out of bed or are doing laundry, just focus on each breath, making it slow and relaxing as you breath in and out, watching your belly rise and fall. Breathe in positivity, breathe out stress or whatever bothers you and smile.
Overall, mindfulness in daily tasks has been shown to reduce the effects of stress-related ailments such as inflammation, especially arthritis, bowel issues or disease, asthma and even anxiety attacks or depression. On a mental-note, it also helps you pace yourself and not overwhelm your mind with various tasks but be able to do anything with the most chilled out attitude.
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