Can boring tasks help reduce your stress?

Are there jobs you just have to do – at home or at work – that bore you out of your skull? What is it that does this for you? Washing, ironing, filing? And can you turn things around, so they actually help you feel better? The answer is almost certainly yes. Read on if you want to know how.

Since these tasks have to be done, finding a way to make them more fun or even good for your mental health is a big bonus. Clearly some of these ideas will work better than others depending on the actual jobs you find boring, but work your way down the list and find one (or more) that work for you.

How to get the best from boring tasks

  1. Carry out your tasks mindfully. Mindfulness is about focusing your mind completely on what you’re doing in the present moment, without letting it wander to the past or the future. So, if you’re washing dishes you allow yourself to become immersed in an awareness of the temperature of the water, the smell of the soap, the weight of the plate you’re holding and so on. It’s tricky at first but if your mind wanders, gently bring it back and focus again. It will get much easier with practice and is really good for your stress levels. A study in Florida University showed that washing dishes mindfully can reduce anxiety by up to 27%.
  2. Swap jobs or negotiate with other people. It may be that the chores you find boring are relaxing to someone else. If you have a rota, at work or at home, see if you can swap the jobs you dislike the most for something you find more agreeable.
  3. Do them properly. There is little value in rushing boring tasks and doing them badly. Making sure you are thorough prevents you from having to repeat them. And at least you can end feeling satisfied you've done a good job.
  4. Find a positive reason for doing the task. For example, clutter-free environments help us feel better, physically and emotionally so tidying and cleaning will have long term benefits and help create a sense of calm. Gardening and vacuuming use calories and offer a chance to exercise.
  5. Build in benefits. A Japanese study showed that citrus smells help to decrease anxiety, depression, confusion, fatigue and anger. So, choose lemon or lime scented cleaning materials to help boost your mood.
  6. Don’t procrastinate. There is nothing worse that being left with a huge pile of dull and boring tasks which you feel compelled to do. Have a schedule and get them out of the way on a ‘little and often’ basis, maybe one or two a day.
  7. Reward yourself – alternate jobs you find dull or uninteresting with those you enjoy so that you have something to look forward to.
With time, you may actually look forward to chores when you start to feel stressed. This is much better than turning to TV, food, alcohol, or any other activity with no health benefits. You’ll feel better and get all those annoying tasks done at the same time.



Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control. Debbie is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and has co-written the Hypnotherapy Handbook both of which are available from Amazon.
Find out more about Debbie's services on  or phone 01977 678593