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MAN’S STRESS FRIEND: Stroking dog or cat is best way to beat stress as top anxiety busters revealed in new survey

FEELING stressed? Forget mindfulness and meditation, as you’re better off reaching for the nearest roll of bubble wrap.

That’s according to an astonishing study which reveals that mundane activities are the best way to reduce anxiety.

Some 86pc of us experience stress on a daily basis, with the figure rising to 90 percent for adults under 29.

Our increasingly pressurised society has spawned a huge industry around stress reduction, with hard-pressed workers being urged to take up soothing hobbies like yoga or follow relaxation apps.

Yet it seems we’re more likely to experience a reduction in anxiety levels by sticking to simple everyday tasks.


A survey of 2,000 people found that stroking a cat or dog, listening to a crackling fire or rainfall or popping bubble wrap are the most effective ways of alleviating stress.

Other simple actions like colouring, watching trees sway in the wind and watering plants were among the top actions for those seeking relaxation.

And, in good news for those who favour a tidy home, everyday housekeeping tasks like making the beds, hanging out the washing and vacuuming also ranked highly.

Surprisingly, even dull household chores made the list, including weeding the garden, folding the washing, chopping vegetables and peeling potatoes.

Survey respondents also reported stress-busting results from grating blocks of cheese and painting the walls.

Some nine percent favoured jobs like kneading dough, and bizarrely – watching the washing machine – while a hardy six percent said they clean the loo as a way of relaxing.

The study by MyBuilder found that the repetitive motion of certain activities were a key factor for 83 pc of respondents.

And 93pc said they place huge importance on taking time out of their busy lives to engage in simple actions.


Commenting on the findings, psychologist Dr Becky Spelman said: “It is interesting to see from this research, how many of the most simple, seemingly mundane tasks in life, are actually calming and therapeutic.

“In fact, slowing down and focusing on simple things is the guiding principle behind mindfulness meditation, which is a proven therapeutic technique that works effectively with stress and a range of psychological issues.

“In mindfulness meditation, we slow right down, remove all thoughts about worry and our daily lives from our minds, and just focus on the moment.

“Research shows that doing this reduces the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, and that it reduces the heart rate.

“The same effect can be seen when we use repetitive tasks to unwind after a hard day’s work.

“Even something as simple as mindfully chopping an onion in preparation for a pasta sauce can be done in a meditative and therapeutic way.”

She added: “It is interesting to note that engaging in repetitive tasks can be therapeutic regardless of whether the task in question is creative—such as preparing a meal —or destructive, such as popping bubble wrap.

“However, many of the activities listed in the research are about restoring a greater degree of order to the home, by putting things in their place, or making a tasty home-cooked meal for the family. On a symbolic level, this is quite easy to read.”



  1. Stroking a dog or cat 36%
  2. The sound of a crackling fire 30%
  3. Listening to the rain 28%
  4. Popping bubble wrap 26%
  5. Colouring in 23%
  6. Watching trees sway in the wind 22%
  7. Making the bed with clean sheets 18%
  8. Hanging the washing out on a sunny day 17%
  9. Vacuuming 15%
  10. Watering plants and flowers 14%
  11. Painting a wall with fresh paint 13%
  12. Folding fresh laundry 13%
  13. Wiping down worktops 11%
  14. Mowing the grass 11%
  15. Ironing 10%
  16. Chopping vegetables 10%
  17. Weeding 10%
  18. Kneading dough 9%
  19. Watching the washing machine 9%
  20. Sewing 8%
  21. Peeling a satsuma in one 8%
  22. Jet washing 8%
  23. Sweeping up leaves 6%
  24. Peeling potatoes 6%
  25. Pruning bushes 6%
  26. Cleaning the loo 6%
  27. Mixing paint 6%
  28. Grating cheese 5%
  29. Cleaning windows 5%
  30. Sanding a rough surface 5%