When you're stressed it's very hard to really relax, even when you have time off. Often there are just 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 television or a good book. At times like that, cleaning up could be the answer.
First of all, cleaning provides relief from clutter which can also be stressful from time to time. Nobody wants to walk into a room that has piles of laundry and a mess that needs to be put away.
Also cleaning might be a way of meditation. Housework can relax you and make you happier. "When you clear away dirt, you free the soul, liberating it for other things," said 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 Gassl. "You can do a lot with 20 to 30 minutes of work," he added, "whereas in your job it often takes longer to see the fruits of your labor."
But can cleaning really be fun? 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 said, adding that it's really important to make 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.
Window cleaning as workout
An adult weighing 70 kilograms burns a calorie per minute while watching TV sitting on a couch. Although it may not sound much, an adult can burn up to four calories per minute while cleaning up or folding laundry. "Anyone who vacuums for 30 minutes and then wipes the floor for 15 minutes consumes an average of 200 kilo calories that's already a mini-work-out," said 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 said. "We're in constant movement." But because of this exertion, she explained that it's important to avoid excessive strain.
"People usually press down too hard with their hands," she said. "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."
Waltzing with the vacuum
Katharina Zaugg suggests using waltz rhythms to liven up the cleaning. Bernd Glassl agrees with the principle, and recommends making cleaning up a social occasion by inviting friends 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.