Out of ideas? Here's how to reset your brain

Out of ideas or plagued by writer's block? Twiddling your thumbs won't guarantee that your inspiration will return. But according to a new study, doing something else with your hands will.

Researchers at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management recently found that washing your hands actually resets your brain. The simple act not only helps it get unstuck, but also makes room for newer and better ideas.

It also found that a quick wipe of your hands will have the same effect. But how?

Apparently, cleaning your hands provides both a physical and psychological cleanse, making it easier to separate old ideas and goals from new ones.

The study involved four experiments and showed that participants tend to view their previous goals as less important, and their current goals as more important, after cleaning their hands.

In one of the experiments, some participants were asked to unscramble sentences that included health-related words. They were later asked to choose between a 90-calorie granola bar and 250-calorie granola bar.

'For people who were primed with a health goal, for example, using the handwipe reduced their subsequent tendency to behave in a healthy manner - they were more likely to choose a chocolate bar over a granola bar,' said Ping Dong, a PhD student in marketing who co-conducted the research, to Mail Online.

"Cleansing can change people's real behaviour," he also pointed out to TODAY.

However, because this study only examined the correlation between hand-cleaning and short-term goals, there's no saying what impact it'll have in the long term.

And interestingly, a separate study by the University of Michigan not only found similar results, but also discovered that participants were less likely to have doubts about a decision they've made after washing their hands.

Time to start putting your hands under a running tap a lot more. Just don't forget to slather on hand cream after.

This article was first published on CLEO Singapore