It seems Lady Macbeth got it right--if you've ever felt stressed, sad, or guilty after you've made a hard decision or made a mistake, consider giving yourself a cleanse. According to a literature review to be published in Current Directions in Psychological Science
, washing your hands or taking a shower might help you get rid of negative feelings--even if you only think about it.
"People can rid themselves of a sense of immorality, lucky or unlucky feelings, or doubt about a decision. The bodily experience of removing physical residues can provide the basis of removing more abstract mental residues," Spike W.S. Lee
from the University of Michigan is quoted as saying on MedicalXpress.com.
Lee and his co-author, Norbert Schwarz
, examined different studies done in the past to see if there was a connection between physical cleansing and relieving the mind. One study they looked at was one in which people judged others' mistakes in a harsher manner if they were in a room that smelled bad or wasn't clean. Another saw people feeling less guilty about something they've done if they used an antiseptic hand wipe afterward.
Cleansing also helped people who were having doubts about decisions they'd made
. In one study, people who were having second thoughts after choosing between two jams no longer felt the need to justify their decision after using a hand wipe. A similar effect occurred in gamblers who were losing. After washing their hands with soap, they increased the amounts they were betting.
These studies show that people who are feeling bad do record a positive psychological effect after cleansing themselves. If you're feeling down, therefore, you can help ease your worries by washing. You can even take things one step further by indulging in a long hot bath. It doesn't just help you wash away your worries; it's a great way to relax and recharge too.
Need a quick way to unwind? Washing isn't the only way you can use to de-stress. Get more ideas on FN:(Photo by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget via Flickr Creative Commons)