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How to stop touching your face

Health By Audrey Masitsa
Touching your face is a very common habit (Photo: Shutterstock)

I’m a chronic face toucher. I became very aware of this when I started wearing makeup and I would have to force myself not to touch it in case it rubbed off.

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Then, because I sit in front of a computer all day, I noticed that every time I was reading something or thinking about the right phrase to use in a sentence, my hands would automatically go to my face.

With the high alert on coronavirus (COVID-19) and all the warnings about not touching our faces to help reduce chances of infection, a few tips on how to stop touching the face comes in handy.

Let’s look at some of these below.

1. Practice mindfulness

Pay attention to how often you touch your face and what makes you want to touch your face. Is it an itch? Do you do it because you’re picking at a pimple? Are you resting your head on your hands as you think? Is it due to anxiety or worry? Is it because you get restless and your hands always need something to do?

It might seem counterproductive to pay more attention to how much you touch your face when you are trying to stop the habit but once you identify the triggers, you will be better placed to stop yourself from touching your face.

According to Suzanne Mouton-Odum, a clinical psychologist, touching your face to ease discomfort or regulate yourself is normal. Thus, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for doing so.

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2. Look for alternative habits

It’s very hard to ignore an itch. I’m trying to do that as I write this and I’m failing miserably. However, keep some sanitizer nearby so you can clean your hands before you scratch that itch. Have a handkerchief or tissues on hand in case you need to scratch your eye or sneeze. This will put a barrier between your face and hands.

If you tend to touch your face because you’re nervous, frustrated or deep in thought, look for an alternative like a stress ball that you can squeeze whenever you get anxious. You could wear a ring or bracelet that allows you to keep your hands busy and away from your face.

Remember to avoid touching your face with these objects since they can transfer the same germs your hands would.

If you can't wash your hands before touching your face, use hand sanitizer instead (Photo: Shutterstock)

3. Address your triggers

You get nervous when you have to speak in front of people so you automatically touch your face. Ask yourself why you are so anxious. Could it be because you doubt yourself and your abilities or you don’t believe in the product you are trying to sell?

Whether it’s a problem that you can address or you need help from a therapist, finding out what triggers your face-touching can help reduce the number of times you actually do it.

4. Make an effort not to touch your face

It takes time to form a new habit and even more time to get rid of one. I have challenged myself not to touch my face for instance when I’m reading something on my computer. Whenever I have a pimple, I make an extra effort not to touch. This is probably the hardest part of this guide but when you force yourself not to touch your face for at least five minutes, slowly but surely you will find it easier to avoid this habit for longer periods of time.

Remember that touching your face might not prevent you from getting sick but it does help you practice better personal hygiene. Your hands come into contact with multiple surfaces making them the perfect environment for disease-causing germs to hide. Apart from respiratory infections that can spread by hand-to-face contact, you also risk spreading acne or making it worse when you pick at your pimples.

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