Did you know, on average, people touch their faces up to 23 times per hour?
Touching your face will contribute to the spread of germs and make you sick. That’s why it’s very important to avoid it. Ironically, once you’ve been told not to touch your face, that’s all you want to do.
Here are some tips from experts to help break the habit and reduce your risk of infections like COVID-19.
Pay attention to how often and why you touch your face.
Being aware of what makes you touch your face and how often you do it is the first step in addressing those triggers. Are you fixing your glasses? Does your nose itch? Often times, we don’t realize when we touch our faces. It can be habitual or in response to physical causes. Either way, identifying the reasons why is the first step in addressing the behavior.
Doing something else with your hands when you feel the urge to touch your face is called a ‘competing response’. You should engage in these competing responses for at least one minute or until the urge to touch your face passes. Examples of competing responses include stretching your arms straight down at your sides, holding onto something or clenching your fists, among others. This technique can eventually help you break the habit of touching your face.
Hold something in your hands.
When the urge to touch your face is strong, having something in your hands can help with that. Habitually touching your face can be harder when your hands are busy on something else. It’s important to keep your hands and whatever you are holding away from your head.
Wearing gloves can make you more aware of your hands, especially as they near your face. This can help you avoid this behavior until you become more aware and get better at it.
Pay attention to your habits and find ways to replace them with others less likely to make you sick through the spread of germs. Are you one to put your chin in your hand when you are listening to someone? This puts your hand closer to your mouth and increases your risk of transferring germs in your hands to your mouth. “Habit-changing expert Brian Anderson of Texas A & M University suggests you train yourself to instead rest the side of your head against your fingers. You would still be touching your head, so it’s not ideal, but it keeps the germs further away from your mouth, eyes or nose.”
Change the triggers that lead you to touch your face.
Pay attention to what’s making you touch your face. Maybe you have allergies that make you touch your nose. If so, consider allergy medication to alleviate the symptoms. Do you wear your hair down and it gets in your face? Use a headband or hair tie to keep your hair back. Maybe you rub your eyes after staring at the computer for too long and eye drops can help with your eye irritation. By removing the root causes for touching your face you will have fewer reasons to do so.
Ask your family and friends for help.
Your family and friends can help you kick the habit by keeping you accountable. You can ask them to notify you when they see you touching your face, whether you are spending time with them in person or online. This can be a group exercise as you do the same for them since it’s beneficial for everyone to avoid touch their face and stop the spread of coronavirus.
Remember to wash your hands.
Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to stop the spread of viruses and prevent you from getting sick. Even while making a conscious effort to stop touching your face, sometimes it’s impossible as part of our daily habits get in the way. Every day you must wash your face, brush and floss your teeth, blow your nose, etc. These activities all require you to touch your face. Therefore, washing your hands is an extra layer of defense against viruses.
visit our CHSpeaks Blog for more information on COVID-19.