Coronavirus, coronavirus … seems like that’s all I’ve been hearing about, so I thought I’d write about the best ways to not get sick – wash your hands and don’t touch your face.
Think about how easy it is to rub your eye, scratch your nose, or settle into a pose similar to The Thinker, with chin and mouth in palm and fingers on cheek and jaw – all without thinking.

These days, those ordinary touches to the face would make a public health expert shudder. Yup.

Why? Because you would have just moved your hand over every part of the T-zone, where the coronavirus, and other respiratory infections, enter into the human body.

In other words, those diseases begin in your eyes, nose or mouth. Whoa.

Get it? The eyes are the top of a capital T, and the nose and mouth make the line going down from the top. The T-zone, man.

And that’s why every time we see information from the NWT chief public health officer, on things like the flu or the coronavirus, it ends with, “wash your hands and/or don’t touch your face.” It’s simple advice, but it’s very hard to follow.

Don’t believe me? A recent study found that we touch our face about 24 times an hour, or 384 times in the 16 hours a day that we are awake. Whew, that’s a lot of times.

And how many of those touches do you think were to the T-zone? Well, almost half of that touching involved contact with the eyes, nose or throat, or to be more precise, it was 10 times an hour or 169 times a day. Whoa.

Don’t forget our hands pick up germs from things like phones, doorknobs, keyboards, or even worse from bathroom toilets, sinks and stalls. Those germs are trying to get to our throat, sinuses and lungs.

And we pass those germs to ourselves every one of those 169 times a day that we touch our face.

One expert said, “People are more likely to get the virus by picking it up from a surface and touching their face, than they are to breathe in droplets directly from someone who is infected. They will get it from themselves, not the person down the hall.” Eschia.

But identifying or being aware of the problem is just the first and easiest step. Next, you have to try to break the habit. We always say that awareness without action results in doing the same thing.

Touching our face is a habit that we’ve developed over our lifetime, so it’s hard to break.
A nurse told me that the hardest thing about becoming a nurse was learning how to not touch her face with her hands.

Outsmart that habit

We have to outsmart that habit. How you ask? Good question. One way is to change something about what we’re trying to vary.

If we wear something on our hands or face, it can remind us not to touch our face. For instance, if I wear a ring on each of my index fingers, seeing the rings when I go to pick my nose will interrupt that automatic action. LOL.

In other words, we should assume we’re going to touch our face and wear something that, when touched or seen, reminds us of what we want to do. In my case, seeing the ring on my finger would definitely remind to not touch my face.

Another thing is to wash our hands or cover our finger with a tissue before we touch our face. Now you’re talking.

Washing our hands removes germs. So, touching our face with an unwashed or bare hand is a no-no.

Wearing gloves doesn’t solve our problems either, unless we’re always washing or changing them, because they pick up germs just like our bare hands.

Some people sneeze into their hands and that is also a no-no. Instead sneeze into your elbow, so you’re not passing on your germs.

Also, to keep germs off the part of your hand that touches your face, be like Howie Mandel and do the fist-bump instead of shaking people’s hands. Not a bad idea eh?

So, there you have it. Don’t want to get sick? Wash your hands and stop touching your face.

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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