If the phrase all hands on deck means that everyone needs to help in achieving a large task, we all currently have the assignment to wash our hands regularly and properly. The good news is that handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many harmful microorganisms including COVID-19. One downside is that more frequent handwashing causes dry skin.
The American Academy of Dermatology shares tips for preventing dry skin and infection. When washing your hands, use lukewarm water and moisturize immediately afterwards. Choose moisturizing ointments and creams that contain mineral oil or petrolatum. The ones that squeeze out of a tube are often more effective than ones you pump out of a bottle. At night, dab petroleum jelly on your hands. A humidifier at night can raise the humidity level to help dry skin.
The care of our hands can be used as a mindful moment throughout the day. What might that look like for different people?
- For all who use gloves for safe work environments, the careful steps of donning, removing and disposing gloves can be a reminder to pause briefly.
- The deliberate steps of properly washing hands can become the mindful activity for all of us.
- A mindful minute can include paying attention to the physical sensation of applying moisturizing cream.
- Susan Pollack shares tips to parents to find magic in the mundane like the drudgery of dishes, laundry, diapers and housework. She offers a mindfulness activity called, “Appreciating our hands”. Her work inspired the following mindfulness practice.
This mindful moment will use hands as the focus and go through the four senses of sight, sound, smell and touch. This can be done at different times throughout the day. Decide when it makes the most sense for you to use this mindfulness exercise.
Mindfulness Moment on Hands
Start with a deep breath.
Rest your hands in a comfortable position where you can observe them. You might cradle one hand underneath the other. If your mind wanders during these few moments, that’s OK. Just bring your focus back to one of the four senses
What do you see? Take a moment and discover what your hands look like.
What do you hear? This might be sounds associated with washing, drying or moisturizing your hands. These might be background sounds as you sit silently and inspect your hands.
What do you smell? There might be expected scents with wearing gloves, washing hands, moisturizing your skin or other tasks that your hands have completed. There might be other scents around you in this moment.
What do you feel? What is the temperature of your hands? Do you notice any internal sensations such as blood pumping or sensations in your joints? Move your hands and fingers slightly and then stretch wide. Bring some energy to the moment by shaking your hands as if you were trying to fling off water drops. Bring calmness to the moment by softly holding and caressing each hand.
As you finish this short mindfulness activity, send appreciation for all the things your hands do every day. Take another deep breath to finish the mindful hands activity.
As you return to your daily responsibilities, consider these questions: Did you notice anything you have not noticed before about your hands? Did you notice any emotions? Did you discover a new appreciation for anything? If you are new to mindfulness practices, this might feel unusual or maybe even awkward. Be encouraged to try a mindfulness practice a few times before deciding it’s not for you. If you would like to try some additional mindfulness activities, Ohio State Integrative Medicine offers free mindfulness recordings.