Ok so you’ve been a bit off and thrown some curve balls with the patients you’ve seen so far in the shift. You’re got people banking up in the waiting area, people are looking at their watches and your support staff are giving you daggers. Each person you see is wanting you to spend more time with them and it seems that each case is getting more and more complicated. The very best thing you can do is take a moment quietly walk down to the bathroom and wash your hands.
Breath. Take a moment. As you are washing your hands focus on washing off the “accumulated crap.”
Researchers Lee and Schwarz in 2010 found that it seems that hand washing may remove past concerns and gives a person the feeling of a clean slate. (Lee & Schwarz, 2010) Another study found that hand washing can even wash away your “bad luck.” This study was done on gamblers who had experienced a run of perceived bad luck. People who then washed their hands carried on betting as though their bad luck had been forgotten. (Xu, Zwick, & Schwarz)
Now I’m not condoning gambling nor saying running late on a shift is just bad luck, but it seems that to get you back on track you would do well to take a moment and wash your hands.
Lee and Schwarz also found in their 2010 study that after choosing between two alternatives, people perceive the chosen alternative as more attractive and the rejected alternative as less attractive. This post-decisional dissonance effect was eliminated by cleaning one’s hands.
As chiropractors, we make decisions every day. Whether a new patient is appropriate to be seen; whether to adjust or not; what techniques to use; when to recheck a person; what home self-care recommendations to give. It seems that if you are feeling overwhelmed a good thing to do is to wash your hands and it can “cleanse your mind.”
Maybe you have had a patient that has either not responded as well or as quickly you would have hoped. Perhaps they are always “down in the dumps” and you always have felt “drained” after seeing them. Or maybe they have just dropped some bad news on you. If you don’t deal with this appropriately you will likely drag this negative energy into the next patient and the next and so on! It seems that washing your hands can help you close the loop and move onto your next patient fresh. In 2013 a research found that participants who failed at a task, then washed their hands, felt more optimistic afterwards than those who didn’t. (Kaspar, 2013)
So if you’re finding a patient challenging, wash the pessimism away.
Whilst I would hope that a chiropractor would not feel guilty every day, perhaps you may feel guilty about not being able to deliver on what was expected or agreed. Perhaps you have had to tell them something that they “needed to hear” rather than what they “wanted to hear.” A researcher named Kaspar explored the “Macbeth effect” which is, a threat to one's moral purity that induces the need to cleanse oneself.
Feeling some guilt? Time to cleanse the carpals!!
Kaspar, k. (2013). Washing One’s Hands After Failure Enhances Optimism but Hampers Future Performance. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 69-73.
Lee, S. W., & Schwarz, N. (2010, May 7). Washing Away Postdecisional Dissonance. Science, 328(5979), 709.
Xu, A., Zwick, R., & Schwarz, N. (n.d.). Washing away your (good or bad) luck: Physical cleansing affects risk-taking behavior. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(1), 26-30.
Zhong, C.-B., & Liljenquist, K. (2006, Sept. 8). Washing Away Your Sins: Threatened Morality and Physical Cleansing. Science, 313(5792), 1451-1452.
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