Free the mind with a dust cloth
Does life have you stressed out? If so, go start cleaning your house.
It might sound crazy, but research from Florida State University is finding this to be true. The act of scrubbing a tub, doing the dishes, or the all-exciting task of vacuuming can actually help reduce your stress level.
If you find yourself ruminating throughout the day, or especially at night, you need to find ways to quiet your mind. In an effort to find closure, our brains will think and think and think about things. This constant attention to life’s stressors eventually wears us down, so turning the volume down on your brain now and then is a good thing. Here’s how to do it.
The act of having to organize that messy pile of papers or arrange all the cleaning supplies under your sink actually helps your brain focus on something other than that issue at work you keep thinking about. When we sort and categorize objects, we must focus on the task at hand, which leaves very little room for our minds to wander back into those thoughts of things that are stressing us out.
Want to make yourself focus even more? Set a start and stop time for organizing and cleaning out the refrigerator or garage, and see how you suddenly shift your focus to the task at hand.
Ever use a white noise machine to help you sleep? The constant hum helps our brains relax and we sleep better. Find monotonous tasks like vacuuming (think “back and forth, back and forth”), scrubbing (“back and forth, back and forth”) or steam cleaning your sofa (“back and forth” again) to help you relax. Yes, you have to use a little muscle, but that up and down, back and forth motion, along with having to concentrate on staying in a straight line, will actually give you a great sense of peace. (This same repetitive motion effect works on rocking crying babies to sleep).
Stay focused on the task at hand, making sure not to miss any spots. This is a very simple way to also practice mindfulness.
Cut your grass
Science has found that a great de-stresser is simply to spend more time with Mother Nature. The sunlight combined with the outdoors does wonders for our soul and quiets our minds almost immediately. Sunlight helps produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter connected to sleep and mood, so spending more time outside should actually help you feel better when you go indoors. Add in the task of cutting your grass and you will get a relaxing double whammy.
Cutting the grass makes you work, which physically fatigues you and quiets your mind. It’s hard to focus on being mentally stressed when you’re physically exhausted. So go outside, enjoy the morning breeze and make that lawn look pretty.
For those of you who are artistic, deep thinkers or naturally creative with ideas constantly flowing in your mind, be aware that you might run a little on the anxious side. While being creative is a gift, that same gift can be a curse because our creative minds can make up all kinds of horrible, scary scenarios that can stress us out. Creative people have a tendency to conjure up consequences and outcomes that in all likelihood won’t occur, but our constantly thinking minds will trick us into thinking the worst.
If you are creative at heart and you find yourself getting stressed or anxious frequently, don’t beat yourself up over it. You can learn to calm the brain by stepping away from your work or stressor and immersing yourself into something mindless. It sounds crazy, but those mindless tasks are the very things that will give us the break our brains desperately need.
So the next time life sends you into thinking overdrive, go wash the dog, iron the clothes, or paint the fence. You’ll be more focused on your tired muscles than anything else!