According to a recent study conducted by researchers and reported in the Journal of Mindfulness, the best way to reduce nervousness and increase mental creativity is to mindfully wash dishes. And the authors don’t mean deciding top or bottom rack in your dishwasher. No – they mean the old fashioned way – by hand.
Supposedly, if you focus on the smell of the detergent, notice the smooth surface of the porcelain plate, and the shape of your favorite serving spoon, you can get to an elevated state of mind where time slows down and you achieve a “peaceful cognitive state.” This is much like the therapeutic meditation used to calm body and mind by thinking about a familiar object or engaging in an automatic activity such as breathing.
But why not accomplish something too – as in hand wash your dinner dishes? Analysis of this showed that volunteers, who studied the sensory experience of dishwashing, interpreted it verbally, and then actually washed eighteen clean dishes, experienced a reduction in nervousness and an increase in mental inspiration.
I think my mother had this all figured out about sixty or so years ago. In the house I grew up in, my nightly housework assignment was drying the dishes Mom was washing. My older brother’s assignment? Taking out the garbage at least once per week. So I guess Mom was ahead of her time – knowing that this sexist work assignment was in reality good for my inner soul and big brother would just have to deal with the added stress in his life.
And BTW, the caveat of the above experiment left the question hanging: What if the test subjects had washed dirty dishes? Sounds like another government grant is needed here to answer that burning question.