Research from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas has shown that the average person touches their face 23 times per hour. Doctors warn that touching your face during an epidemic (not just coronavirus) is dangerous - it increases the risk of infection. But in practice this precaution is more difficult than wearing a mask and remembering to keep your distance. It is impossible and unnecessary to completely get rid of the habit of touching the face. But you should try to reduce the number of touches and be more attentive on the street.
Why do we touch the face
Unconscious touching the face is peculiar only to humans and some primates. This touch triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps you calm down in times of stress. In addition, researchers from the University of Leipzig argue that this is how a person controls emotions and attention. We touch our face when we flirt, reflect, or try to get away from communication.
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Why is it dangerous
Viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19, are transmitted by touching an infected surface. People wash their hands much less often than touch various objects and then face. The mucous areas of the eyes, nose and mouth are the gateway for the virus. WHO experts emphasize that medical masks cannot fully protect against infection. The BBC quotes Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, who notes that masks help less unwashed hands touch your face. But this is not enough to mitigate risks.
How to get rid of a bad habit
It is difficult to unlearn automatic actions, so the challenge is to make them more conscious and rare. Healthline magazine has found how to beat a dangerous habit.
Method number 1: track the moments of touch
Try making a list of situations where you touch your face. In this list, you need to note what exactly you are doing - scratching your nose or forehead, rubbing your eyes, and also indicate how often this happens. So unconscious actions will become more conscious. You can share the list with friends on social media to help you track your progress. In addition, it is worth hanging reminder notes "Not three eyes", "Don't touch your face" around your home and office.
Method number 2: take your hands
For this, spinners or anti-stress balls are suitable. The main thing is to make sure they stay clean. At home, you can do cleaning or a hobby - embroider, knit, collect puzzles. If you have nothing to pick up, experts recommend interlocking your fingers, sitting on your palms, or spreading your arms to the sides.
Method number 3: get a new jewelry or scent
To develop a new habit and interrupt automatic actions, you need something out of the ordinary. A new ring, bracelet, wristband, or regular elastic band on your wrist can help you pay attention to unconscious movement and stop it.
The brain also reacts quickly to an unfamiliar smell, so it is helpful to buy an antibacterial soap or sanitizer with an unfamiliar, persistent scent. This makes it easier to track down the attempt to touch your face.
Method number 4: wear gloves
We usually wear gloves on the street, where we tend to think about dirt and germs. It is worth trying to walk in them at home - the association with the street and the fear of infecting will help to realize the habit. But we must remember that this is not the safest method, since with our gloved hand we still touch different surfaces.
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