“Cleaning up” has not only a literal meaning, but also a symbolic one: Get rid of emotional baggage and leave things behind that are no longer of any use. It’s not hard to imagine that clutter can cause stress and worry. Order, on the other hand, has a calming effect. That is why the idea of housework as therapy is not out of thin air. When doing housework as a mindfulness exercise, it can have psychological benefits. Yes, housework can be therapeutic for many people .
Housework as a positive activity and as a type of physical exercise can reduce stress, so be prepared to take a different approach to one of the most mundane and unpopular commitments from now on.
Examples of housework as therapy
Below are a few examples of how housework can bring order to your head.
- In some cultures, cleaning the house is a valued and important job. For example, in Japan this activity is called “oosouji”, which means “to clean thoroughly”. Traditionally, cleaning takes place on December 28th, so that the New Year can be heralded in a clean house. The Japanese see it as a bad omen when trash and outdated attitudes take with them into the New Year.
- Health experts say housework can be relaxing and even meditative. According to psychologist Isabela Pérez-Luna, “cleaning and tidying up act as a means of catharsis and are a way of getting rid of things that are no longer needed” .
- In her book, Marie Kondo explains that keeping the house tidy has direct consequences for happiness and well-being.
- In an interview with Radio Times, British actress Helena Bonham Carter described the therapeutic effects of housework. Tim Burton’s partner assured that she no longer had to pay for therapeutic sessions after discovering “housework as therapy” . She said she could fix her head while she tidied the house.
Cleanliness in Buddhism
Buddhism views cleaning the house as a type of meditation that can be practiced every day. Buddhist monks see housework as a spiritual exercise through which one can cultivate and purify one’s mind, soul and life.
Let’s not forget that one of Buddha’s followers found nirvana while he was sweeping. According to Buddhists, people are connected to their environment, which reflects their mind. They explain that when the environment is in disorder, it affects the mind. So if you keep the house clean, your mind will also become calm and clear.
Buddhists also believe that cleaning helps the mind focus on the present. Living in the here and now is one of the keys to achieving happiness and success.
The Ten Commandments of Housework
In his book Keisuke Matsumoto lists the Ten Commandments that should be followed if one wants to improve one’s life through housework:
- Handle the items with care. Every item has been made with a lot of effort and dedication, so it must be treated with respect.
- Show gratitude for the items that are useful to you. When you no longer need them, dispose of them. You can give them new life by giving them to someone who might still be able to use them.
- It’s best to clean up first thing in the morning. If you start the day with peace and quiet while everyone else is still asleep, your heart will feel peace and the mind will be clear.
- Before going to bed, you should put away and put things in order that you used and moved during the day. That makes cleaning up the next day easier.
- If you clean up in the morning and tidy up in the evening, you will find yourself feeling refreshed during the day.
- Before you do any cleaning, open the windows and ventilate the house to purify the air. When you feel the fresh air on your skin, you will feel more alert and pure.
- When you feel the wind blowing through the window, contact is made between you and nature. The air is mild and pleasant in spring and autumn, warm in summer and icy in winter. When you feel their loveliness as well as their hardness on your skin, it becomes possible to identify with your own vulnerability and with the power of nature in connection.
- To show respect for life, one should tidy up after every meal so that one does not attract insects and have to kill them unnecessarily.
- Instead of mourning the past and worrying about the future, try to live in the present moment. To apply this idea to housework, act according to the motto: Don’t postpone until tomorrow what you can get today.
- Sharing household chores among all members of the family will help you appreciate what other people are doing for you. Understanding that everyone depends on each other helps form a team and think of others before doing anything.
Housework can be therapeutic
The need to keep our surroundings clean and tidy comes from our need for renewal. In addition, tidying up the area can be a moment of daily or weekly meditation. Take advantage of this opportunity to practice an exercise of mindfulness.
In order to do this, one should try not to use this time solving problems, watching TV or arguing with the partner. You have to concentrate on the activity, organize, stay still and, above all, focus your attention on what you are doing. This state of total alertness enables one to enter a meditative state in which brain activity diminishes. This way you reduce stress and anxiety. Housework can thus become a regenerating physical and spiritual exercise.