Thanks to the Covid-19 outbreak, the world has never been more conscious of the importance of not touching your face to prevent the spread of the virus. But apparently, people touch their faces up to 3,000 times a day. How do we stop something we do consciously or unconsciously three-freaking-thousand times a day? We at 8days.sg have some tips and tricks that can help. And because you only have to be extra vigilant when you're out and have been in contact with unknown surfaces, and can relax a bit more at home, especially if you've just washed your hands with soap and water (also, a good thing is that so many of us now work from home), it's really not so bad. Right?
#1: Keep your hands busy.
Tip No. 1 is pretty obvious. If you're doing something with your hands, you can't touch your face, right? If you're typing on your computer, make a conscious effort to keep your hands on the keyboard. If you're in a meeting, squeeze a stress ball or place your hands in your lap, preferably interlaced so it's harder for them to wander to your face. Drum your fingers on the table or on your lap if it helps keep your hands busy and engaged. Holding something in your hands — a pen or a cup, perhaps — also helps remind you not to touch your face.
#2: Put on make-up, or sunscreen, or some kind of moisturiser on your face. Or use a scented hand lotion.
I find that when I have make-up on — foundation, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, the works — I touch my face a lot less. If that's not an option for you, sunscreen or moisturiser should help — these things are good for your skin anyway. Another way is to put hand cream on your hands, especially if it's scented. Your hands should be dryer than usual from all the handwashing anyway! Then when you bring your fragrant hands to your face, the smell should remind you not to touch your face.
#3: Use a tissue.
Face itchy? Eyes need a rub? Grab a sterile tissue and deal with the itch. Discard tissue. Done.
#4: Identify the reasons you’re touching your face. Fix them.
If you have certain habits or triggers that make you constantly touch your mug, identifying these triggers and fixing the problems might help. If your eyes are always tired or itchy, get eye drops or see an expert to find out if this is a problem that can be fixed. If your skin is dry and itchy, a moisturiser might work. If you're always using your hands to push hair away from your face, tuck your hair away or tie it up. Nail-biter? Nail polish or a special bitter polish to stop nail biting could be a solution.
#5: Ask a friend or whoever you’re with to let you know when you’re touching your face.
Sometimes, you just don't know when you're touching your face, especially when you're deep in the middle of something. Get a friend or family member to let you know, so you can be more aware of what you're doing and why. Better yet, play a game. Whoever touches his or her face has to drink or do a forfeit. Remember to drink something with at least 60 per cent alcohol. Kidding!
#6: Get a reminder from an external source — such as an app or a phone alarm.
There's a website called Donottouchyourface.com that monitors you through your computer webcam and shouts, "No!" when you reach for your face. It runs in the background as you use your laptop or desktop. It's free, doesn't require sign-ups or personal info to use, says it doesn't store any footage or user data, and that none of the info or images is sent over the Internet — it's all processed locally on your computer. Use it... if you dare. For the more cautious, setting a phone alarm that tells you "Don't touch your face!" every 15 minutes or so could be a good reminder.
#7: Stop thinking about not touching your face.
It's like meditation — the more you're told to empty your mind, the more your mind fills up with all sorts of thoughts. If you keep telling yourself every 3 seconds to keep your fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth, you might end up doing it even more, if only because you're so stressed out or nervous about it. So chill out a bit and just... breathe. Practise good hygiene, and wash or sanitise your hands if you really can't help touching your face once in a while. Be mindful of what you should and shouldn't do, use our tips above, and don't stress. Stay healthy and safe, both in mind and body.