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WHY DO WE HAVE AN OBSESSION WITH TOUCHING OUR FACE?

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Tid Bits of Info

  • Some people touch their face 24 times per minute.
  • Touching our face changes the electrical current in the brain and helps us tolerate stress that is part of daily life.
  • Be sure to clean your workspace with a disinfectant wipe and include your cell phone.
  • Wash your hands with a scented soap and the scent will eventually become a “trigger” to keep your hands away from your face.
  •  Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds will help to protect you from most colds, flu and viruses.

Why do people touch their faces so often?  It has been reported that some people touch their face nearly two dozen times per minute on average.  There might be a science/psychology behind the act of touching our face. In this crazy time of Coronavirus and flu season, it is a habit that needs to be changed as quickly as possible.

The incidence of touching our face increases and correlates with the amount of stress that we experience at any given time.  The act has been shown in research to reduce that stress level.  The stressful situation often times deals with how and what cognitive information that an individual is processing.  The thought processing is referred to cognitive load and the amount of mental activity at a given time equals the total cognitive load.   When cognitive load is high, the stress level is elevated. Researchers have shown that touching the face actually reduces the cognitive load by changing the electrical potentials in the brain.

The increased act of touching the face more often has been linked to nearly any situation that elevates the stress level of the individual.  Males tend to touch their face, neck and arms where women more commonly touch their neck, clothing, jewelry (especially necklaces), arms and stroke their hair when they are involved in a stressful situation.

Obviously the big negative of touching your face is the transmission of germs from your hands to your face.  If you touch the area around your mouth, you have opened the door for the germs to enter your body via a warm, moist environment.  Everyone has to work on breaking the habit of touching their face so often throughout the course of the day.

Ways to prevent yourself from touching your face:

  • Keep your hands busy:  Occupy your hands with almost any object and you are less likely to reach up and touch your face.  Use a stress ball, rubber bands or simply clasp your hands together when you are not actively using them to perform a task.
  • Keep Kleenex handy:  When you absolutely have to touch your face to scratch an itch, adjust your glasses or rub your nose, be sure to use a Kleenex and not your bare hand.  Once you are done, throw the Kleenex away.
  • Address the root of the habit:  There are “triggers” to most problems and touching the face is not an exception.  Everyone has some sort of compulsive behavior that they deal with every day. If they can figure out what “triggers” that behavior, they can begin to work on stopping it.
  • Avoid stress:  Stressful situations lead to an increase in the number of times a person touches their face. The stress eventually will reduce your immune system’s ability to fight disease and touching your face repetitively can increase your chances of getting sick.
  • Keep your hands clean:  Finally, make sure to keep your hands clean.  Wash your hands frequently and with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.  If your hands are clean and free of most germs, when you touch your face you will be less likely to transmit germs into your body.

Touching your face is something that nearly every individual does throughout the course of the day.  Unfortunately, it is a habit that can spread germs through transmission from your fingers to your face.  The goal should be to stop touching our face with our bare hand. When you have to do it, make sure that your hands have been washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.