One of the most preached about ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is washing your hands regularly.
We think this is important, according to the medical experts for your own physical health, but also believe it provides a unique opportunity to improve your mental health.
WASH YOUR HANDS…MINDFULLY!!
Let’s briefly chat about mindfulness.
What is mindfulness and why it can be good for YOU!
There is a lot of hype and information about mindfulness out there. Please don’t start thinking religious pilgrimages, meditation retreats, sitting still and humming for hours at a time, this is not what we expect you to do.
Mindfulness is not always easy, but you can start small.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift – that is why we call it the present (said by someone really smart)
Mindfulness simply means paying attention to the present moment – whether it be a sight, a sound, a taste, a smell or sensation on or in the body. Focussing purely on the HERE AND NOW for a moment. You can develop mindfulness during regular activities such as walking, brushing your teeth, eating, surfing, driving and WHILE WASHING YOUR HANDS.
WASH YOUR HANDS!
Wash your hands regularly for a brief period of time…you determine the time you want to commit to this activity.
Start with short durations initially and extend this over time.
Feel the soap and lukewarm water on your skin, feel the alcohol-based hand rub on your skin.
How does the soap or alcohol-based hand rub feel?
Do you notice any smells?
Do you notice any sounds – the tap running, your hands rubbing together.
The goal is to try and focus only on the present moment - what’s happening right now and not getting swept up in your thoughts about the past or the future, certainly blocking out any thoughts of panic about an impending apocalypse.
Yes, please trust that we know this is much easier said than done. Becoming more mindful and unhooking yourself from thoughts about the past or future can be tough, particularly with so many negative headlines and doomsday discussions taking place right now.
Try to think of mindfulness practice as building a muscle in the brain – building muscle takes time and commitment.
Now, we certainly do not think that mindfulness is the golden key to solve all of life’s problems, but a fair bit of research does suggest that practicing mindfulness can benefit your mental health – it can help you cope better with stress and ambiguity, anxiety and depression, focus and relaxation.
If nothing more it can provide you with quiet and calm in a world that is becoming more and more complex, fast-paced and extremely unpredictable day-to-day. If it works for you, it works for you so do it more.
If, after some practice, it’s not for you, then it’s not for you and that is fine.
You owe it to yourself to find out.
Try the following:
- Mindful Hand Washing. This will only take a couple of minutes:
- Begin with a bar of soap and some running water. Or a tub of alcohol-based hand wash. Or whatever it is you use to wash your hands. Start washing those hands of yours, as I am sure most of you are doing more regularly now than ever.
- If your thoughts drift to the past or the future, gently remind yourself to return to the sensations of hand washing.
- Continue doing this hand washing for a couple of minutes, being aware of the simple sensations on your hands. No doubt as you are doing this, your mind will wander away from exploring the sensations of washing your hands – thoughts about the past or the future (chances are they will) – gently bring yourself back to the act of hand washing.
- No matter how long you’ve spent lost in thought (you won’t even realise you’re getting hooked by your thoughts initially and this is normal), you can always unhook yourself from your thoughts and bring yourself back to the moment-to-moment sensations of washing your hands.
- Download the Smiling Mind APP here and complete “An Intro to Mindfulness”. This should take no longer than 10 minutes tops!
Hand washing – a wonderful way to assist with your physical hygiene and health, but now more than ever a unique way to try something new to assist with your mental health.
WASH YOUR HANDS TO IMPROVE YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH!