These days, handwashing is more important than ever before. So how can we turn this necessary activity into a mindful moment?
Once upon a time, hand washing was hardly a symbolic event. Rather, it was an unconscious reaction to, say, accidental contact with stray marmalade, taking out the bins, or petting a passing cat.
But with the arrival of Covid-19, handwashing has become a source of stress for many – as alien and unsettling an intrusion into our daily lives as disinfecting the shopping before packing it away in our cupboards.
That said, it doesn't have to be this way. With the application of the techniques below, good hygiene actually presents us all with regular ways to take stress-busting mental health breaks throughout the day. And with the additional application of a deep moisturiser such as OLVERUM Body Oil, it can also transform washing into a ritual which calms and soothes the mind, as it cleanses the body, and restores smoothness to skin dried and chapped by increased exposure to soaps and antimicrobial handwashes.
Following the next five steps to unlock the wellbeing benefits that handwashing can offer.
Rituals are a useful component of mindfulness. Simply concentrating on each step in a ritual presents you with a 20-second opportunity to detach yourself from intrusive thoughts and to be present in the moment. Rather than being a source of stress, following correct handwashing procedure is a chance to indulge in self-care. Take time to appreciate the feel and temperature of the water as it runs over your skin, the sensation of the lathering soap as it glides over your hands. These will help you take a moment to centre your thoughts and push away anxiety.
Breath control is a superb natural stress-busting technique and is an important pillar of meditation. Regulating your breathing is a simple way to release tension from the body, slowing your heart rate, calming your mind and giving your body cues it needs to recover from stress. The simplest methods to do this are also a handy way to ensure you always wash your hands for the recommended 20 seconds, without running through another hurried chorus of 'I Will Survive'. Take deep, timed breaths. First, breathe in deeply through the nose for five seconds, opening up your airways and drawing air deep into your lungs. Then exhale slowly through the mouth for another five seconds. Repeat the process one more time and your 20 seconds are up, and your thinking is rebalanced.
Aromatherapy has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and many of the oils used were also prized for their own antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. OLVERUM Body Oil contains a blend of essential and cold-pressed botanical oils, carefully selected to provide the maximum aromatherapeutic benefit from each plant source. Calming lavender flower oil is a natural relaxant, while invigorating bergamot and geranium oils have a fresh, wakeful profile which imbues a sense of rejuvenation to help restore your flagging mental energy reserves.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy, sometimes described as ‘clinical mindfulness’. It empowers its subjects to overcome fears and take control of destructive thought patterns by practising simple mental techniques to deprogram negative thinking. If you're struggling to clear your mind of unpleasant thoughts, use simple positive mantras to reward yourself for maintaining hygienic discipline. This can easily be combined with the breathing techniques described above. As you inhale, think of yourself breathing in positive energy and optimism, and breathing out anxiety and stress.
When viewed on a chart in a hospital bathroom, the correct handwashing procedure looks - well, somewhat clinical. Associate it with hand massage. Reflexology is one of the most relaxing massage techniques you can perform on yourself, and many of the movements – from rubbing together interlaced fingers to circling the muscles at the base of the thumbs – are an essential part of proper infection prevention cleanliness. Once your hands are clean, repeating this process with OLVERUM Body Oil also moisturises the skin, helping repair damage done by repeated exposure to soaps and, in particular, harsh antimicrobial gels.
Discover the invigorating power of the OLVERUM Body Oil, £42, by visiting olverum.com