Everyone agrees that washing hands is an essential part of preventing common illnesses like colds and stomach bugs (and dare I say, the most recent plague). It’s simply good hygiene to wash after doing anything where you might come in contact with harmful bacteria and before you prepare food. If that’s not convincing enough, keeping your hands clean can also reduce breakouts because you’re spreading fewer bacteria to your face.
Today, I’d like to introduce the idea of how the simple practice of washing your hands can help with mental wellbeing. The idea of taking a timeout is nothing new. When you are feeling overwhelmed, taking a moment to reset can make all the difference in the world. But, for busy people, finding that moment can be difficult.
This is where using handwashing time as a moment of calm can be a lifesaver. There’s something deeply soothing in the experience of lathering up in warm water and nice smelling soap. The act of washing stimulates acupressure points in the hands and can reduce stress and discomfort. You’re going to be washing your hands anyway, you might as well do it in a deliberate and purposeful way.
Handwashing: a Mini Meditation
If there’s something bothering you and you can’t put your finger on it, or if you feel stressed or overwhelmed, use the time it takes to do a good job washing your hands to hit the reset button. While lathering up pay attention to your breathing and the cues your body is giving you. Take a few deep breaths, repeat an empowering mantra, look yourself in the eye and tell yourself everything is going to be okay. As an added bonus, use a favorite hand lotion afterward because you’re worth it.
The Difference Between Sanitizer and a Good Hand Washing
At the beginning of the COVID scare, my youngest was taught at school the importance of washing hands to stay healthy. However, this child tends to take things to extremes. He went from what one would consider a normal daily hand washing routine to washing several minutes at a time between every activity. Within days his hands became raw, chapped, and painful.
To him, this handwashing behavior was keeping him safe from a danger that was both hard to understand and frightening. But, anything pushed too far can be a problem. We had to reteach him when it was appropriate to do a good handwashing versus when it was okay to use sanitizer. Part of that teaching was helping him overcome using handwashing to help manage his fear and making it something that was enjoyable once again.
Discussion: How has COVID changed your sanitizing and handwashing practices? Share in the comments!