If you weren’t a germaphobe before COVID-19 it’s probably safe to say that you are now. If you already struggled with a fear of germs pre-COVID, you have our deepest sympathies. This must be torture for you. Either way, everyone is now much more aware of the germs covertly lurking in our world. Here are a few ways to help you navigate the ‘New Normal.’
Wash those hands.
And not just for 5 seconds. Or 10. Twenty seconds of actually scrubbing with soap (does not include rinse time!) is what the CDC has recommended. Interestingly, that’s what they’ve always recommended to kill germs on your hands. We are all now just seeing the wisdom of their guidance. When soap and water are not available, use an FDA approved hand sanitizer.
Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, anytime you use the bathroom, and especially after being out in public or at work. Counting to twenty is super boring, so here are some suggestions to help you know when enough is enough. You can hum your ABC’s twice, sing Happy Birthday twice, or even belt out the chorus of ‘Africa’ by Toto.
This may be a touchy subject, but try not to touch surfaces that are frequently touched by others. Sometimes this is unavoidable, for instance, using a grocery cart or opening doors. It’s important to be more aware of the surfaces you are touching that you don’t even think about: the check-in desk at a doctor’s appointment, the break room or kitchen at work, and of course, everything in a bathroom.
Even touching your own face can be unhealthy. Health professionals urge us to be careful, knowing we are so prone to rub our eyes and nose or itch those itches, and unknowingly transfer germs to our faces.
When meeting someone for the first time, our cultural reaction is to shake their hand. It’s probably best to start training your reactions to give an elbow bump, a friendly wave, and a smile, or if you’re really brave, a ‘foot shake.’ It’s basically bumping ankles together and it’s super awkward. Being safe doesn’t mean removing all contact, but just being smart!
Don’t be afraid. Be wise.
We do not need to live our lives cowering in fear from germs that are out to get us. Simply being more aware of what surfaces you’re touching and keeping your hands clean more often are both great ways to keep yourself and others healthy. If you are a parent, make sure to communicate these simple practices to your kids. If you own a business, encourage and remind employees of these best practices.
We can often find ourselves in situations where water and soap are not available. That is why it’s so important to keep a trusted hand sanitizer with you at all times. Your car, purse, diaper bag, gym bag, kid’s backpack, and office desk are all great places to store hand sanitizer.
Be safe out there!