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.