Wash Dishes This Way and Be Less Stressed

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It's all about how you approach the task.

American humorist Erma Bombeck once said, "Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity." Whether it's washing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming floors, or cooking dinner, she's right. The work never ends and it's often painfully boring.

There may be a way to make it less so, however. A new study from Florida State University shows that the trick lies in the study of mindfulness, specifically when it comes to dishwashing. Lead researcher and PhD candidate Adam Hanley said he was interested in "how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increase overall sense of well-being."

For the study, 51 participants were asked to read either a passage about mindfulness or a descriptive passage about dishwashing prior to tackling their sink full of dirty dishes. Those who read about mindfulness reported a 25 percent increase in feelings of inspiration and 27 percent reduction in nervousness levels. The passage about mindfulness that improved the tedium included the following (via TIME):

"While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes. This means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves."

The passage might sound a bit over the top, but I have to say, there's nothing like having a hand ripped open from too much work on a gymnastics bar (or a broken finger, as my friend is dealing with right now) to make one realize how being able to wash dishes truly is a "wondrous reality." It's tedious, yes, but it's necessary, and when you are unable to dip your hand in water without pain, life becomes considerably less efficient.

We could all do with more mindfulness and inspiration in the most boring household chores, especially the one that's thought to be the hardest on a marriage. So take a moment to think over how fortunate you are to have hot water on tap, soap to cut through grease, and hands to do the work quickly and thoroughly. In the meantime, here are 8 ways to make washing dishes easier – and more fun.