Health officials have made it clear that to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, there are simple and basic steps everyone can take. Along with social distancing, avoiding contact with known carriers, and wearing a mask when possible, the CDC stresses the importance of basic hygiene. You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times a day (before eating, but also anytime you have been in a public place, or have sneezed or coughed).
That part is pretty simple. But it’s their other basic hygiene recommendation that people are having more difficulty with. The CDC is stressing that, along with washing your hands, you should avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
Most of us probably do not realize how many times a day we absent-mindedly touched our face without realizing it. In fact, for most of us, it’s an ingrained habit. That is why so many are now left wondering how to break the habit of touching your face.
Don’t worry, there are some tips and tricks that will help you to break the face-touching habit.
How to Break the Habit of Touching Your Face
- Keep tissues nearby. You can’t avoid a sneeze or a runny nose. But if you always keep a box of tissues nearby, you won’t be tempted to wipe your runny nose with the back of your hand or sneeze without protection. If you’re suddenly overcome by an irresistible face itch, it’s better to scratch it with a tissue than with your bare hand. Place tissue boxes around your house, and make sure you have one nearby when you’re working remotely or watching TV.
- Keep track of when and why you touch your face. Anytime you realize you’ve done it – scratched your nose, twirled your moustache, bitten your nails, wiped your eyes, touched your face in any way – write down what you were doing and where you were. You’ll likely find some patterns. Maybe your face-touching skyrockets when you’re sitting on the couch watching TV, or maybe you do it whenever you’re feeling anxious. By knowing what situations might trigger it, you’ll be better prepared to stop it.
- Share! Self-monitoring helps, but it works even better if you share what you’re doing with friends. A roommate, a spouse, a friend, or even publicly on social media. Talk about how you’re trying to cut down on face-touching and ask people to hold you accountable. The very act of talking about it will help you pay attention and change your behavior.
- Replace the behavior. Once you realize when and where and why you’re touching your face, you can start to act. The urge isn’t going to go away, so experts recommend finding a replacement behavior whenever you want to touch your face.
Replacement Behavior for Face Touching
Anything simple you can do instead of touching your face is fine. Some recommendations include:
- Clenching your fists.
- Sitting on your hands.
- Pressing your palms into the top of your thighs.
- Stretching your arms straight down at your sides.
- Play with a pen.
- Squeeze a stress-ball.
Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you can easily and immediately do for at least a minute, until you no longer have the urge to touch your face. When the urge returns, repeat.
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