Why we touch our faces, and how to stop it

Why we touch our faces, and how to stop it

In order not to become infected with coronavirus, just stop touching your face with your hands – doctors around the world advise us. If it seems to you that following this recommendation is simple, then you have not tried to do this. Quitting the habit of touching your face with your hands is just as difficult as stopping smoking, twisting the ring on your finger and straightening your hair. Let’s figure out why we all constantly touch ourselves and how to finally stop doing this.

The inability of people to resist the unconscious desire to touch their faces (especially now, when we are told not to do this from every corner) has already become a meme:

Why we touch our faces?

The question arises: why do we constantly touch our faces? The answer was sought by reporters from The New York Times. Scientists know that only humans and a few primates (gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees) touch their face unknowingly and without foundation. Most animals do not touch their muzzles for no good reason: only when you need to shake off dirt or slam a mosquito.

German researchers analyzed the electrical activity of the brain before and after a spontaneous touch on the face, and found out: we do this to relieve stress and cope with emotions. The stronger the stress and intensity of passions, the more often we involuntarily touch the face. During the experiments, scientists noticed that the subjects more often touched the face when they were asked to complete a task requiring maximum concentration, to tell a very personal or fictional story.

Journalist Justin Peters, under pressure from his own hypochondria and medical exhortations, took all his will into his fist and decided not to touch his face with his hands for one day. Slate Magazine published a story about his struggle with a life-threatening habit. Justin says that in the evening the desire to scratch his face became irresistible. He tried to use a distracting maneuver: scratching his hip when he wanted to scratch his cheek. But that did not work. “If you try to outsmart your face, you will lose,” Justin concluded. As a result of a long internal monologue, Justin lost ground and compromised with habit. “If the skin of my hand does not come in contact with the skin of the face, this cannot be considered a touch,” he decided and put his thumb under his T-shirt to scratch the tip of his nose. “My ears are more of a part of my head than my face,” Justin thought further, and with a clear conscience began to scratch his ears, already without any protection. You know how it all ended. “We’ll all die someday,” Justin decided in the end and heartily scratched the itchy area on his face. We are all a little Justin. His story proves that doctors around the world demand the impossible from us.

Nevertheless, the number of touches to the face can be minimized if you follow a few rules.

How to stop touching your face?

1. In this struggle, it is better to rely on the barrier method than to rely on willpower. And although doctors insist that the mask does not protect against infection with the virus, it is worth wearing it – at least it will prevent you from touching the face again. Anticoronavirus protection can be supplemented with glasses – ordinary, sun-protection or, if you really do not trust yourself, underwater. Do not be afraid of public condemnation – act radically:

2. Take your hands. If you are a programmer, journalist or machine tool, this can be done in a socially useful way – just load yourself up with work. People of other professions are advised to acquire an office toy – a squish, a magnetic constructor or a handgum – at the same time relieve stress.

3. Neutralize irritants. If you often touch your face for objective reasons – for example, your eyes and skin itch, – finally solve these problems. The skin may itch due to dryness – moisturize it well. Here we talked about natural remedies that will help to do this effectively. Itching in the eyes may be associated with allergies or a trivial lack of sleep. Use antihistamine eye drops, take a rest from your computer and smartphone more often and get enough sleep, no matter how banal and impracticable it may sound.

4. Make up. Use non-water resistant products that you won’t want to smear with a random touch. In addition, natural decorative cosmetics does not harm the skin and does not provoke itching.

5. And the most obvious advice is to wash your hands often and responsibly with soap.

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