With corona virus (or COVID-19 to give it its proper title) seemingly sweeping the globe, including Australia, we've heard so much and so often that the best way to avoid it - other than sealing yourself off from the rest of the world - is to wash your hands regularly, to stop touching your face, and to have some hand sanitiser handy as a back-up.
The washing of hands bit is relatively easy. It's something we've practiced since the days we could first take ourselves to the bathroom with mum yelling out 'Don't forget to wash your hands!'. And assuming someone hasn't bought it all, there's many brands of hand sanitiser available in supermarkets and chemists.
But do you know how much you touch your face? We thought we'd experiment by trying to count the number of times we did so in one hour and then multiplying it out by the 24 hours of the day. We read about a study which showed that we touch our face about 24 times in one hour.
You read that right. 24 times in one hour. Taking away the 8 hours we're supposed to be sleeping, that means we touch it 384 times a day! Yikes.
Even though we were trying really, really hard not to touch our face, we still did so 15 times - and, to be honest, we're not even sure if we counted it every time.
We came across this helpful piece in the New York Times with four simple tips for stopping touching your face. We know that not everyone can access it due to the paywall, and we can't reproduce it, but here is the link to the full article, and we're going to summarise the four tips.
1. Keep a box of tissues handy. When we first saw this, we thought it might have something to do with the famous (or infamous) #toiletpaperpanic in Australia, but this is so if you feel the urge to itch, touch, wipe etc, do so with a tissue.
2. Identify triggers. In other words, be aware of anything that makes you touch your face. For example, we know when we're at the gym and we come of the stationary bike, we automatically brush our hair back. Every. Single. Time. And you can imagine how many people might have touched those bike handles before you did, even if your gym does have all the gear to disinfect between users.
3. Keep your hands busy and/or use scented soap on your hands. Not quite sure why these are the same tip. However, keeping your hands busy through use of a stress ball, or typing, or knitting, or some such, stops you from doing something to your face. Likewise, if you use highly scented soaps/handwash on your hands, you will notice the smell as you go to touch your face and it might help stop you from doing so.
4. Chill. So ... you get this far through the article and then a psychiatrist tells us we should all just chill a bit and not get so stressed about it, as stress actually reduces our body's ability to fight infection. The psychiatrist is quoted as saying as long as keep our hands clean (here we go again!), touching our face is normal and we should be fine.