For the Good Advice File: Washing Your Face.

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Woman Washing Her Face by Hashiguchi Goyō, 1920. Image: Wikipedia.
Woman Washing Her Face by Hashiguchi Goyō, 1920. Image: Wikipedia.

Some of the best advice I ever got was this: If you are feeling sad or lost or stuck in your day, go to the bathroom sink and wash your face. You don’t have to use soap, though doing a full wash is the best case scenario. If you don’t have soap or don’t have time for a full wash, turn on the faucet and splash your face with cool water for a minute or so.

If you’ve been crying, it’s a wonderful technique; it cools hot tear tracks and flushed cheeks. If you’re a woman who wears mascara, the water will also remove any dubiously sexy raccoon eye you’ve got going on after breaking down in whatever small or large way you just broke down.

But you don’t have to be weeping to use the cool-water-on-face fix. In fact, this feel-better method is almost more effective when you aren’t crying; feelings of despondency or anxiety can come and get the best of us, rob our days of better feelings. Splashing water on your face — cup your hands, make it count, you’re not flicking water, you’re doing this — washes away at least a thin layer of all that. Maybe it’s one of those ancient gestures and it just feels natural to do it, thereby returning us to a place and time with no alarming subject lines, no transaction fees, no social media blunders.

When you turn the faucet off and stand back up from being over the sink, the water runs off your chin; you figure it’ll do that. Gravity still matters. Gravity is not alarming. Gravity charges no transaction fee. Grab a towel and bring it to your face. Press. Now remove the towel. Daub your chin. Wipe at your hairline, away from the face. Take a breath. Look at yourself in the mirror.

You’ll be okay.

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