Why washing dishes, making your bed, dusting, and other common chores can lower stress, boost happiness, and protect against heart disease. You’ll never look at your To-Do list the same way again.
By Lauren Gelman
Wash dishes: Reduce anxiety
People who cleaned their plates mindfully (they focused on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature, and touching the dishes) lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent, found a recent study of 51 people out of Florida State University’s psychology department. People who didn’t take as thoughtful approach to their dish washing did not experience a similar calming benefit.
Dust with a lemon cleaner: Be happier
A citrusy scent is a potent mood booster, according to a 2014 Japanese study. When participants spent as little as ten minutes inhaling yuzu (a super-tart and citrusy Japanese fruit), they saw a significant decrease in their overall mood disturbance, a measure of tension, anxiety, depression, confusion, fatigue and anger, PureWow recently reported.
Make your bed every morning: Boost productivity
Your nagging mom was right: Starting your day with a freshly made bed is what Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, calls a “keystone habit”; one that has a ripple effect to create other good behavior. In his book, Duhigg notes that making your bed every morning is linked to better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking to a budget. Bedmakers also report getting a better night’s sleep than those who leave their covers messy in the morning, per a National Sleep Foundation poll reported by WebMD.
Clean up your yard: Prevent a heart attack
Need motivation to break out the vacuum cleaner? People who did the most yard work, housecleaning, and DIY projects had a nearly 30 percent lower risk of a first-time cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke compared with those who were the most sedentary, according to a new Swedish study of 3,800 older adults.
Banish kitchen clutter: Lose weight
A recent study showed that people with super-cluttered homes were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. The likely reason: It’s harder to make healthy food choices in a chaotic kitchen. Organizing guru Peter Walsh, author of Cut the Clutter, Drop the Pounds, has been inside of hundreds of people’s homes. He says once people get finally get organized, they tend to experience a number of other unexpected perks, including weight loss, without strict dieting!
Mow the lawn: Feel more joyful
There’s something to that grassy scent. Australian researchers discovered that a chemical released by freshly cut grass makes people feel more relaxed and more joyful.
Grow flowers and vegetables: Lower depression risk
In a study out of Norway, people diagnosed with different forms of depression spent six hours a week gardening; after a few months, they experienced a notable improvement in their depression symptoms, and their good moods continued for months after the study ended. Doing a new activity and being outside in nature can certainly help, but some experts believe that dirt itself might be a depression fighter, according to Health.com. Christopher Lowry, PhD, a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has been injected mice with a common, harmless bacteria found in the soil. He’s found that they experience an increase in the “release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood, much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do,” the site reported.
Share chores with your spouse: Have a better sex life
When men perceived their contribution to household chores as fair, couples have more frequent and satisfying sex, according to a 2015 study from the University of Alberta. “If a partner isn’t pulling their weight in housework, either one will have to pick up the slack, or the chores will remain undone. This will develop tension and bitterness in the relationship, which will transfer into the bedroom,” according to MedicalDaily.