10 Dreaded Tasks That are Actually Great for Managing Stress

7 Dreaded Tasks That are Actually Great for Managing Stress

For most of us, stress is a normal part of our lives that comes with everyday occurrences. Almost 70 years ago, no such thing as “stress” existed, since there was no term used to define it. Although there were millions who coped with it, there was no help available to them since it was not discovered until the 1950’s. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that endocrinologist Hans Selye first identified and documented stress. His discoveries led to new research that has helped millions cope with stress. Here, we are listing 7 ways to help you relieve stress.

1. Washing the dishes.

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Image: Your Best Digs/Flickr

Believe it or not, washing dishes can significantly lower your stress level. However, you have to do it mindfully, according to a new study. From the study, researchers found that people who washed dishes mindfully (they focused on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature and touching the dishes) upped their feelings of inspiration by 25% and lowered their nervousness levels by 27%.

The study conducted in 2014, which was published in the journal Mindfulness, explains that having a “mindful” approach to dishwashing, can reduces stress significantly. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that, “Mindful dishwashers evidenced … increases in elements of positive affect (i.e., inspiration) [and] decreases in elements of negative affect (i.e., nervousness)”. (source)

2. Decluttering your home.

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Image: Pixabay

Being surrounded by clutter can stress you more than you realize. If you have to move things around, in order to perform a task and constantly performing these tasks is overwhelming you, then it’s a strong signal that clutter has prevailed. According to Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, who studies the causes of clutter and its impact on emotional well-being, “Clutter is an overabundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces”.

A 2010 study, published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, looked to see how married couples dealt with (and felt about) messy homes. “The wives in the study who perceived themselves as having a cluttered home or a home that needed work tended to have increased levels of cortisol throughout the day,” Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi wrote in The New York Times. “Those who weren’t feeling cluttered, which included most of the men in the study, had cortisol levels that tended to drop during the days”. So, it’s time to tidy up! (source)

3. Keep a stress diary.

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Image: Hannah Olinger

If you can’t find the time for all the activities that are important to you, maybe you are trying to do too much. Make a list of what you do during the day and how much each activity takes. Then cut back. Keeping a stress diary for a few weeks is an effective stress management tool as it will help you become more aware of the situations which cause you to become stressed in the first place.

Note down important things such as the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Then, rate each stressful episode on a 1-10 scale. Later, when you get some time off, analyze the events in the diary and try to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations. This can help you find better coping solutions. (source)

4. Exercise in groups.

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Image: Geert Pieters

Exercising can help us stay fit. However, when we are doing it by ourselves, we can sometimes become demotivated. At the same time, exercising with someone else or a group can be embarrassing, especially when other people are more physically fit than us. According to research in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, exercising with a group is more beneficial at reducing stress than working out alone. Even though other people may be at a different physical level, it helps us stay motivated and achieve our goals. According to the study, people who exercised in groups had a significantly 26 percent lower stress level than those who did not. (source)

5. Learn to say ‘No’.

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Image: Elijah O’Donnell

Most people are stressed because they have too much to do and too little time in which to do it. And yet in such situations, many people willingly agree to take on additional responsibility. While this is good to maintain friendships and bonds with your family members, it can take a toll on you. Learning to say “No” to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress. It can also help you develop more self-confidence.

Many people find it hard to say “No” because it is within their nature to help others. They want to help and are trying to be nice and to be liked. However, agreeing to everything can have a huge impact on your life. If you feel reluctant to respond to a request with a straight “No” at first, try to tone it down and be more subtle. Use phrases such as, “Now is not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. Why don’t you ask me again later?”. (source)

6. Sniff your partner’s laundry.

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Image: Pixabay

This might sound weird but a 2018 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that women feel calmer after being exposed to their male partner’s scent. Marlise Hofer, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology, explains, “Many people wear their partner’s shirt or sleep on their partner’s side of the bed when their partner is away, but may not realize why they engage in these behaviors. Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress”. At the same time, the study found that women who were exposed to a stranger’s scent had the opposite effect and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. (source)

7. Dwelling on your failures.

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You might have heard plenty of quotes that describe how we should focus on our lives in the present instead of dwelling on the past. However, a study, which appeared in the journal Frontiers in 2018, says, “Writing about past failures attenuates cortisol responses and sustained attention deficits following psychosocial stress”. According to the study, “Writing about a previous failure may allow an individual to experience a new stressor as less stressful, reducing its physiological and behavioral effects”. So, take time to reflect and it may help you on the long run. (source)

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