An easy trigger that will give you opportunities to calm your your brain and relax your body throughout your shift.
Washing our hands is something we, as nurses, do many many times during the shift.
For a few moments we are away from all the rush and pressure as we stand alone at the sink moving our hands under the water.
It is one of the few times during a typical shift that we are not in motion (at least not physically). This is a great opportunity to touch base with our state of mind, re-set our multitasking overload and settle into the experience of mindfulness.
The recommenced duration of a hand wash should be 40–60 seconds.
Using an alcohol based hand rub should take 20–30 seconds.
So. Take. Your. Time.
- As you step up to wash your hands take a deep breath.
Hand-washing is now a trigger to quiet your mind of all the thoughts racing around up there in your nurse head, and focus on just this particular single task.
- During the process of hand washing focus on your breath.
Again, the goal is not to slow or control you breath, but simply to become aware of it. To inhabit it.
- Re-centre your breathing down into your abdomen. When stressed and rushed we tend to shallow breathe into the top of our chest.
- Open your awareness to the sensations of the water on your hands.
Experience its temperature, its slipperiness, the sensations as it tumbles amongst your fingers and over your hands. Enjoy connecting to these sensations.
- Feel the soap as you apply it and lather it into your hands. Be aware of the sensations of contact between your hands and fingers and they interlace and rub against each other. Inhabit the feelings down in your fingers and hands as they move.
- Maintain awareness of your breath throughout.
If you want a specific guide on this, you want to be concentrating about 30% on your breath and 70% on the awareness of the hand- washing.
- Continue to cultivate awareness as you rinse your hands and dry them. Really get into the whole activity.
- As you finish drying your hands, complete the exercise by returning your awareness to focus on your breath.
- Now return to your clinical activity. Done.