Stressed? Cleaning Is Actually Good for Your Mood

There's a reason you feel happier when your house is clean. Here's the science behind how daily chores can make your mind and body healthier.

Few people look forward to household chores like washing dishes, folding laundry, or paying bills. But what if those tasks were beneficial for your to-do list and your wellbeing? As it turns out, daily chores can help you clear your head and feel more peaceful—but having the right mindset is key. 

"When we are intentionally doing something in our life in a way that invites ease and peace, it is going to feel different than if we are doing something out of stress or obligation,” says Dr. Ariane Machin, Psychologist. “Taking a mindful approach to what we are doing elicits a ‘calming down’ of our body systems, enhances our oxygen flow, and contributes to us feeling more content.”

What exactly does practicing mindfulness look like? “The key is to train your mind and whole being to be in the moment, without judgement, which can be a great tool for stopping automatic, repetitive and unhelpful thoughts," says Erin Stair, M.D., M.P.H. She exercises mindfulness while she washes the dishes. “I use my five senses to do this, and by that, I mean I ask myself basic questions like: What am I feeling? Seeing? Hearing? Smelling? Tasting? Using the five senses is an easy way to train your mind to connect and 'embrace' the moment.”   

Tackling small, easy chores can also improve your outlook on larger, more stressful tasks. That's because completing a simple task like vacuuming simultaneously distracts your brain from stressful thoughts and rewards it with a sense of accomplishment. “Your brain has a chance to reset itself, so that you can return to engaging activities feeling less stressed,” Jared Heatherman, M.D. says. “When the mind is less stressed, the body follows suit as well with measured decreases in heart rate and blood pressure.”

Ultimately, this means doing your daily chores is not only necessary, but also healthy for your mind and body. The next time you’re faced with dusting, folding laundry, or another chore you'd rather procrastinate on, consider the benefit of giving your mind a rest from everything else and focus only on the task at hand. The more you can find satisfaction in little jobs done well, the better your body and mind will feel.

12 Comments

  1. My husband died a couple of years ago. During the grieving process, I got so depressed that I quit cleaning house. My daughter was living with me and did the same thing. Before long, I discovered myself looking at my home with active dislike. I called my family together, and cooked a huge crockpot full of chili, and we had a house cleaning party. It was good for all of us. I got my house clean and my kids and their spouses got a chance to help me out. They were all trying to figure out how to snap me out of it. When we were all done, we had a sense of accomplishment and all sat around the firepit talking and eating homemade chili, while cooking hotdogs and s'mores over the fire. Their dad would have enjoyed that evening that we spent reminiscing about him. He loved to sit around a fire with his kids, eat, and talk.

  2. Remember the Beverly Hillbillies program? Even way back then the writers knew cleaning house is helpful to mind and body. One of grannies neighbors was having problems sleeping so she got her to clean her own house for once. Needless to say she was sleeping and without the aide of medication. Don’t know why but that episode always stuck and it is true. Clean house clean mind and body! Yes, I’m aging myself, I actually watched this program way before reruns 😁

  3. Try putting together a playlist of upbeat, favorite songs, wear a headset, and you'll find the time will pass more pleasantly, regardless of the task at hand.

  4. We just had a yard sale last week. I was able to get rid of a lot of stuff from our storage unit, home shed and garage!!! It was overwhelming to say the least but yes, it felt amazing to "unburden" myself with items I haven't seen or used in years!

  5. Cleaning the house has its' psychic rewards but repetitive chores done in a place you do not actually enjoy for a variety of reasons can actually add to one's stress.

    1. I couldn't have said it better.

  6. I love cleaning, laundry, and gardening. Besides being fun and uplifting, doing these things helps me stay in shape, get my 10,000 steps per day, and lose weight!

    1. I’m always amazed by how many steps I can get on cleaning day. When I vacuum I make sure I walk back n forth. Not just stand planted and push n pull. My Fitbit goes crazy and I never even leave the house,

    2. Same here! I get my workout and cleaning done, both at the same time! When you clean daily, it never takes long to tidy up. Nothing better than the feeling of a fresh, clean home!♡

  7. I love a clean and orderly house. But don’t really like cleaning. There are so many other things I would rather be doing that also help one to be in the moment. But sigh it’s up to me to cley

  8. I like to have a clean and orderly home for myself and my children, because I feel as though I am providing well being. I agree with the feeling of accomplishment. I am always looking for ideas to clean better and to organize my spaces.

  9. I don't mind folding laundry - I do it while I watch TV. But I hate to dust. I hate to clean house. While I may bask in the results, I have never enjoyed the process.

    1. Get the fluffiest ostrich feather duster you can find, pick 1 room, set a timer for 2 minutes and see how much you get done in that 1 room. Just do 1 room a day for 2 minutes and it will all get done with more fun. The ostrich feathers make it easy to dust between Knick knacks etc

  10. I LOVE to clean! For me is is so relaxing and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I am totally in sync with your article!

    1. i sure wish i knew folks like you--i'd make you cupcakes and invite you over to help clean up my dump.


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