Brushing your teeth reduces anxiety?
We’ve all been there. Early morning, eyes barely open, full autopilot mode. Toothbrush in one hand, phone in the other, scrolling absentmindedly. All the while, staring into the mirror trying to work out how asymmetrical our face really is.
We brush our teeth twice a day, every day, and we’ve done it for as long as we can remember. Yet we barely even give it a second thought. Rather than just going through the motions, have you ever considered brushing your teeth… mindfully?
Brushing your teeth mindfully??
As it’s Mental Health Day we thought you’d let you in on a little secret. Brushing your teeth can reduce your stress levels. That’s right, dental health and mental health, together at last.
It might sound a bit daft (it does sound a bit daft) but studies have shown that making a concerted effort to focus your attention on the present moment while doing traditionally mundane tasks — like washing the dishes or brushing your teeth — can have a profoundly positive effect on your mental health.
If you’ve ever struggled to find the time or patience to meditate, this is the perfect way to sneak two mindful moments into every single day.
“Erm. Sounds interesting, SURI. But what do you actually mean?" we hear you cry.
Mindful brushing, a very rough guide
Okay so the next time you’re brushing your teeth, try this:
- Listen to the running water, see how it splashes off the brush head or streams down the side of the sink.
- As you squeeze the toothpaste tube, notice how the toothpaste leaves the tube and balances on the tips of the bristles.
- Now close your eyes to remove any visual distractions and really narrow your focus towards the feeling of the bristles against your teeth, gums and tongue. Sensing each individual tooth as you go.
- Become aware of the taste, texture and smell of the toothpaste. The coolness or warmth of the water.
- If you’re using an electric toothbrush you can hone in on the sensation of the vibrations against your gums, lips, and in your hand. Notice how the sound changes as you apply a gentle pressure and manoeuvre the brush around your mouth.
- Really make an effort to stay in the present moment and notice even the smallest details about what you’re doing.
- As you finish, run your tongue slowly across your teeth to feel how smooth and clean they feel. Take a deep (and minty-fresh) breath in and out.
It may feel a bit contrived and unnatural at first, but stick with it and you might be surprised by the results.
Brushing our teeth has become an almost unbreakable ritual (a sustainable ritual, if you will) so it’s the perfect foundation for building new habits - whether that’s kickstarting a new morning exercise routine, or winding down for the night.
Give it a try - happy brushing!