Expert: Stressed? Can't relax? Cleaning up will make you happier

  • Mind
  • Saturday, 26 Oct 2019

Window-cleaning can be a bit more fun if you think of it as a way to help complement your fitness regime. Photo: dpa

Cleaning makes you happy. It’s not, admittedly, an opinion held by everyone. If you think otherwise, experts say you might be doing it wrong.

When you’re stressed, it’s hard to relax, even when you have time off. Often, there are too many things buzzing through your head. This can lead to a feeling of restlessness that can’t be deflected by an evening in front of the TV or with a book. At times like these, cleaning could be the answer.

That’s because if you do it right, housework can relax you and make you happier. “When you clear away dirt, you free the soul, liberating it for other things,” says Bernd Glassl from a German household industry association.

“It’s a task that you can master in a relatively short time and the result is obvious straight away,” says Glassl. “You can do a lot with 20 to 30 minutes’ work,” he adds, “whereas in your job, it often takes longer to see the fruits of your labour.”

In the end, housework is and remains a task that has to be done, so how can you go about making it fun?

Katharina Zaugg runs a cleaning school in Switzerland. She believes it’s important not to see cleaning as a nuisance that you have to put up with. This negative attitude, she warns, often leads to people just trying to get the task done as quickly as possible.

“When you’re dancing a waltz, you don’t dance it faster to get it over with more quickly,” she says, adding that it’s really important to make the cleaning time as pleasant as possible.

One way to achieve this could be to see housework as a substitute for sport. Physical exercise is a great way to get the working day out of your mind and wind down.

Can cleaning really be fun?

Have you ever seen anyone unhappy with a clean window? Photo: dpa

“Anyone who vacuums for 30 minutes, and then wipes the floor for 15 minutes burns an average of 200 kilocalories – that’s already a mini workout,” says health awareness advocate Alexandra Borchard-Becker. That’s equivalent to half an hour of cycling.

Cleaning consultant Zaugg agrees with this approach. “Cleaning is great body work,” she says, “we’re in constant movement.” But because of this exertion, she says, it’s important to avoid excessive strain.

“People usually press down too hard with their hands,” she says. “You can simply walk past a table and stroke your hand over it. You don’t have to stand up and bend forward and scrub back and forth. That’s bad for the intervertebral discs, too.”

Zaugg suggests using waltz rhythms to liven up the cleaning. Glassl agrees with the principle and recommends making cleaning up a social occasion by inviting friends round to help.

And as with any job or sport, you should also create incentives by giving yourself rewards. So when you’ve finished, enjoy a coffee break at the freshly wiped table, or a bubble bath. And when the living room is tidy, you’ll enjoy lying on the couch even more. – dpa

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