Health & Lifestyle

Forget yoga and meditation… try mashing potatoes or building flatpack furniture: Brits reveal their favourite ways to relieve stress (and some are truly bizarre)

  • Survey of 2,000 Brits showed mundane tasks are popular ways to relax
  • Experts say every day tasks can cause the brain to release endorphins  

Household chores like sweeping, hanging out the washing and ironing can be more relaxing than meditation or yoga.

That’s according to a survey of 2,000 Brits that discovered what makes us de-stress.

Mundane tasks that don’t require much thought were voted the best way of finding a moment of calm.

But most bizarrely, mashing potatoes, building flat pack furniture and just watching the washing machine cycle are some tasks Brits say they find the most therapeutic. 

More than half of people surveyed (56 per cent) believe everyday tasks can be more relaxing than meditation or yoga, according to the survey commissioned by eBay

Mashing potatoes, building flat pack furniture and just watching the washing machine cycle are some of the tasks Brit's find the most therapeutic

Mashing potatoes, building flat pack furniture and just watching the washing machine cycle are some of the tasks Brit’s find the most therapeutic

12 per cent of people find grating cheese therapeutic, similarly chopping herbs and making a cup of tea help people relax

12 per cent of people find grating cheese therapeutic, similarly chopping herbs and making a cup of tea help people relax 

Unsurprisingly, half of those surveyed (49 per cent) said making a tea or coffee eases their stress and anxiety levels. 

But watering the plants (31 per cent), grating cheese (12 per cent) and even wiping kitchen surfaces (21 per cent) were also among the top 30 stress-busters.

The survey revealed that around half (49 per cent) of people believe tactile tasks with an end product are among the most relaxing.

So, it is no surprise that crocheting (14 per cent), cleaning the car out (12 per cent) and making flatpack furniture (six per cent) were also on the list.

Household chores that many would consider to be boring were also hailed for their tension-reducing effects.

Folding washing (25 per cent), ironing (23 per cent), going to the supermarket (20 per cent) and even sorting the recycling (13 per cent), were labelled as relaxing tasks. 

Just like meditation and yoga, mundane tasks can cause the brain to release hormones that boost mood, says Cranfield University psychologist Dr Lisa Dorn.

She said: ‘These everyday tasks can also release endorphins which relate to “pleasure centres” in the brain, creating a general feeling of well-being.

‘Regularly increasing your endorphin levels can also boost your mood and brain function and ward off anxiety and stress.’

This could be because we are able to turn off from worries and concerns in life and focus at the task at hand instead, she says.

Dr Dorn added: ‘From a psychological perspective, people get into a zone, or mental state, in which they don’t need to think and are fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus and enjoyment. 

‘It’s as if action and consciousness melt together as people concentrate on the task rather than their worries and concerns.’

Concerns that occupy and stress out the minds of most Brits include money, work, family and health, the poll revealed.

On average, Brits have 10 moments of relaxation a day, with one in three (33 percent) claiming they are having less stress-free moments now compared to three years ago. Almost half (49 percent) wish they had more periods of calm in their lives.

More than half of people surveyed (58 per cent) said they found that phones and computers made it harder for them to relax, but 71 per cent watch TV to switch off. 

Others said going for a long walk (58 per cent), watching a film (48 per cent) and reading (45 per cent) helped them unwind.  

30 EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES THAT BRITS FIND THERAPEUTIC

  1. Making a cup of tea or coffee – 49%
  2. Watering plants – 31%
  3. Chopping herbs – 31%
  4. Hanging out the washing – 28%
  5. Mowing the lawn – 26%
  6. Folding the washing – 25%
  7. Vacuuming – 25%
  8. Driving – 23%
  9. Painting walls – 23%
  10.  Weeding the garden – 23%
  11. Ironing – 23%
  12. Wiping the kitchen surfaces – 21%
  13. Walking around the supermarket – 20% 
  14. Working on your car – 18%
  15. Making the bed – 18%
  16. Washing the car – 17%
  17. Sorting out life admin – 14%
  18. Crocheting/knitting – 14%
  19. Sorting the recycling – 13%
  20. Watching the washing machine cycle – 13%
  21. Grating cheese – 12%
  22. Cleaning a tiled floor – 11% 
  23. Mashing potatoes – 10%
  24. Sweeping – 9%
  25. Cleaning the windows – 9%
  26. Trimming the edges of the lawn – 9%
  27. Tidying your garage – 6%
  28. Shining your shoes – 6%
  29. Making flatpack furniture – 6%
  30. Chopping wood – 6%

Source: Research of 2,000 Britons was commissioned by eBay and was conducted by Perspectus Global in September 2023


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