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Did You Know That Hand Washing Can Relieve Stress?

Are you bored of hearing about the sanitary benefits of washing your hands? Now you have more reason to enjoy it because it has more benefits than what you are aware of. I recently found out that this new normal way of avoiding all forms of viruses can actually relieve stress. 


Studies show that prolonged and frequent stress can gravely affect the health of an individual. There are two reasons why this simple act can aid in promoting the mental state of a person. 

One reason is that this practice of cleaning hands is associated with the Japanese ancient technique of relieving stress. Some people even call this as Shiatsu massage which you can do in 2-3 minutes.

This is based on the concept that our fingers represent different kinds of emotions. The thumb deals with worry. Feeling anxious during a time of crisis? Get out of this feeling right away. Hold your thumb with the fingers from the other hand for a few seconds and gently massage it from the tip to the knuckles and the muscle between the index finger and the thumb.

Here are the other emotions associated with each finger. The index finger represents fear. You can do away with fear by using this Japanese stress-relieving technique. The middle finger deals with anger and resentment. Before hitting someone or bursting with uncontrolled anger, remember to hold, massage, and pinch your middle finger. The ring finger deals with depression and sadness. The pinky or little finger deals with optimism and self- confidence. Do the same method with all fingers. Gently massage and pinch your fingers one by one from the tip up to the knuckles and the corner between two fingers. Then finish with massaging the palm of your hands in a circling motion to calm your nerves. You can incorporate this method of massaging while washing your hands. This works better when using a hand sanitizer because your hands can dry up quickly so you can immediately massage your hands.

Another reason why washing your hands can reduce stress is because you get a feeling of having a clean slate. This is the key finding of a University of Michigan study published on May 7, 2010 issue of “Science”. 

“It’s not just that washing your hands contributes to moral cleanliness as well as physical cleanliness, as seen in earlier research, ” said Lee, a doctoral candidate in social psychology. “Our studies show that washing also reduces the influence of past behaviors and decisions that have no moral implications whatsoever.”

Did Shakespeare know about the "Macbeth effect" even before Chen-Bo Zhong and Katie Liljenquist made a study about it? And how about Pilate? Could it be that he was feeling guilty of a decision he made and had to relieve himself of stress so he washed his hands right after? Did you also notice that some people who are having anxiety and stress often go to the washrooms simply to wash their hands and come out relaxed after doing so? The singing of "Happy Birthday" twice while doing so even increases the relaxing mood.

So next time you wash or sanitize your hands remember to include the Japanese massage technique and think about the "Macbeth or clean slate effect". After all, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and Godliness can lead to a “stress-free” life.