Cleaning your desk, folding laundry, and watering your houseplants are tasks that not everyone enjoys. But what is it about these household chores that makes them so strangely satisfying?

Unlike other forms of distraction like playing video games or watching TV, doing household chores is beneficial, enhancing our “perceived control”. When we’re anxious, our powerlessness can cause stress hormones to rise. Over time, this can weaken the immune system’s ability to work. Ideally, we’d face the problem head-on. However, psychologist Stacey Bedwell claims that simply having the capacity to change our surroundings can give us a sense of freedom, which may explain why cleaning and organizing our homes can be so satisfying. But the benefits don’t end there. If you’re tidying your home, you may find that having a cleaner environment is a source of peace in and of itself. Organizing objects into groups (for example, by color) might make navigation easier by providing the brain with more visible clues.

During this time of the pandemic, we may now see why doing household chores could help calm the restless mind.