As luck may have it, making a concerted effort to be better is the first step, according to Selena Snow, PhD, a licensed psychologist with advanced training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. “Be more mindful about what you are doing,” says Dr. Snow. “Increased awareness of your behavior will help you to change that behavior. I call this ABC—Awareness Becomes Change.”
Welp, I just scratched my jawline, so at least I’m painfully aware of what’s going on. To stay safe, stay healthy, and stay clean, Dr. Snow has a few more super simple (fun, even!) tips on how to stop touching your face.
1. Take a cue from your cat
You know how some cat-owners will tie a teeny bell to their feline’s collar in order to keep track of its whereabouts? Think of yourself as Mittens, a diabolical tabby who can’t stop swatting at your owner’s goldfish, and wrap one or both of your wrists with something visually and/or literally loud. If you get something clink-y to wear, then it should alert you when your hand approaches your nose (which, for the record, mine just did—twice).
2. Use aroma to steer your hand from your face
“You can try applying a scented lotion or perfume to your hands so that the scent catches your attention as you bring your hand towards your face. Then you can stop the behavior as you become aware of it,” says Dr. Snow. And if COVID-19 has you a little more on-edge than usual, investing in a soothing fragrance like stress-relieving lavender oil could do double duty. Of course, remember that scent-i-ness doesn’t replace cleanliness, so only apply your olfactory warning signal after you scrub your hands.
3. During leisure time, make sure your hands are always preoccupied
When you’re busy at work—type, type, typing away or gesticulating wildly during meetings (just me?)—your awareness symbols should alert you of any face-touching. But what about when you’re home, spending the last hours of your day watching Love is Blind while your hands lie idly on your lap? Oh, just rubbed my eyes again.
“Keep your hands busy doing something else so that they are occupied and not available to touch your face,” says Dr. Snow. “Examples can include squeezing stress balls, knitting, keeping a pen in your hand and clicking it, or rubbing lotion on your hands.”
To sum up, the first way to stop touching your face is simply notice when you’re doing it. The second is to find a way to help you notice. And the third is to pick up a habit that’ll keep you hands-off during your down time. On that note, I just rubbed my mouth with my palm; can somebody get me a bracelet and some knitting needles?
We know it’s scary out there, so we got a psychologist’s best tips for taking care of your mental health during a pandemic. And this is how fitness studios are preparing for COVID-2019.