One of the biggest advisories that have been issued to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is to not touch your face too often. However, do all of us not find it difficult from stopping our hands from going to our face every now and then. It is scientifically proven that touching our faces is a natural reaction in humans. We do it very often when we are fetuses in our mother’s uterus. Studies suggest that we touch our face at least .5 to 3 times in a minute. If we were to calculate the number of times we touch our face in the 16 hours that we are awake, would amount to hundreds and thousands of times.
Why is it so that despite the advisories that have been issued, we are just not able to stop ourselves from touching our face. Psychologists say that just telling something the best thing to do is actually the most ineffective way of breaking a habit. People need much more than just a simple advisory to stop something they have been doing since they were born.
Here are some ways you can consciously stop yourself from touching your face too often in the current environment of the pandemic.
Remind people constantly
Often the first thing that comes to mind when we think of breaking a habit is making the person conscious about it. With that logic, telling people every time they touch their face seems like a feasible solution. And it is. There is a significant decrease in the number of times that a person touches their face if they are reminded and reprimanded every time they do. However, it comes with its shortfalls. One, you just cannot remind everyone you know or are with about their habits. It is just not given in a lot of situations. Second, too many reminders can cause the person to get irritated and rebellious as well.
Count the number of times you touch your face
A slightly more effective version of the point mentioned above. Rather having somebody else point your habits out to you, it is better to count the number of times you touch your face yourself. You can use a device like a counter or even a pen and paper to record provided you are able to carry it everywhere you go. Even though, you have to be very aware and record every single time that you touch your face, studies also suggest that it is also okay to not be able to record every single instant. The conscious act of logging is enough for you to reduce the number of times you touch your face by 60-70%
Choose a competing behavior.
Each human response has a trigger. The same is the case with the act of touching your face. It is advisable to identify that trigger and then train your body to form a counter habit to the already existing one. For example, whenever you have the urge to touch your face, itch your arm instead. Psychologists say that it is better that your counter habit is similar to the original habit but still drives you away from the original urge.
Keep your hands busy
For many, it gets hard to beat the subconscious urge to keep going with a particular habit. For them, it is best to have your hands physically touching something to make sure they do not make their way to your face. Stress balls are a great option to keep in your hands. You need other sensory distractions for your hands to prevent them from touching your face when idle. It is also important that you disinfect the object you use often otherwise even they will also be loaded with germs.
A number of studies have suggested that touching your face is a reflex response to stress, something that we develop as a fetus. Studies on pregnant mothers suggest that fetuses are more likely to touch their face when the mother reported feeling stressed. A German study on young males reported a spike in the number of times the candidates touched a part of their face as they were being put through a series of stressful tests. The results suggest that touching their face helps them regulate their emotions.