I am Lindsay Wright, and I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and serve as one of the Behavioral Health Counselors at the Telluride Medical Center. I work with families, couples and individuals of many different ages and backgrounds. 

At this time, many people are experiencing stress and worry related to the many changes we are experiencing, so the Behavioral Health Department wanted to offer help in the form of discussing a self-soothing technique that is entirely unique to each of us. 

The technique we will be discussing today is one that can be practiced multiple times a day, and is meant to fit seamlessly into our daily routines — today we will discuss using the time it takes to wash our hands and turning it into a mindfulness practice. 

Mindfulness has been shown to be a great way to decrease stress, anxiety & depression, lower blood pressure, improve sleep and temporarily block negative thoughts and feelings.

  1. As we all likely know by now, a good hand washing routine should last for a minimum of 20 seconds, and should include creating a soapy lather and cleaning our palms, the back of our hands,  our wrists, between our fingers, and under our nails. 

    But what do you do while you wash your hands?

    It seems that perhaps while taking those 20 seconds, we have the opportunity to engage in a soothing mindfulness practice. 

    There are several different ways in which we could do this, but today we will focus on simply observing the moment as we wash.  First, simply take the time to draw our attention to the present task, to truly focus in on the fact that we are washing our hands, and take two deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

    As with any mindfulness practice, other thoughts may pop up, but simply observe these thoughts and allow them to pass by, redirecting your thoughts to the present moment.  Observe your setting, taking in your visual surroundings, taking note of the sink, it’s fixtures, and how it physically feels to turn on the faucet; perhaps you notice the sensation of cool metal, or maybe it’s ceramic and you can notice a familiar chip with your fingers.

    Next, draw your attention to the temperature of the water, as you begin to wet your hands. Is the water hot or cold? Does it need to be adjusted to feel more pleasant?  Notice the feeling of the water on your hands, and how your hands feel as they touch. 

    Take notice of the soap that you have chosen; is it a bar, heavy in your palms, or is a liquid that lathers quickly?  What does it smell like?  Pay attention to the feeling of the soap lather spreading over all parts of your hands.  If it feels good to you, now you could take the time as you wash to give yourself a micro hand massage, taking the time to apply light pressure to any parts of your hands where you may be feeling tension. 

    As you rinse off your hands, listen to the sounds of the water splashing, watch the water swirl down the drain, and take time to notice the difference in how your hands feel as the soap leaves your skin, leaving them fresh and clean. 

    Before you turn off the faucet, take time to check-in with yourself, and take note of any emotions that you might be feeling in this present moment, being sure to examine these emotions with curiosity and non-judgement.

    Now, focus in on drying your hands. Is your towel paper, or fabric? How does it feel on your skin? Finally, take two more deep breaths, in through the nose & out through the mouth. 

    You can now go about your day, and can revisit this mindfulness practice as often as you like throughout the day, whenever it is time to wash your hands.

    This is a challenging time for all of us, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support.  

    I can be reached by calling the Telluride Medical Center at 970-728-3848, or if you are a patient of Telluride Medical Center, by messaging me through the Telluride Medical Center portal. 

    If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call The Center for Mental Health’s crisis line at 970.252.6220.

    Be well,

    Lindsay Wright

    Lindsay Wright | Behavioral Health
    Telluride Medical Center