By now we all know to wash our hands thoroughly and frequently to decrease the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus. But, did you know that there are routine habits you have at home that are just as unsafe? For example, allowing clutter to pile up can have a negative impact on your mental health, which could eventually lead to problems with your physical health. Here are 15 other habits that can increase your chances of catching and spreading germs.
15. You Don’t Take Your Shoes Off
Your hands aren’t the only things you need to worry about when it comes to COVID-19 and other germs. You need to be aware of all the germs that can be picked up on the bottom of your shoes when you’re out and about. Those germs, in turn, can be spread to your home and everyone in it when you wear your shoes inside the house. That being said, make sure you always take your shoes off upon entering your home.
TIP: Jagdish Khubchandani, PhD, professor of health at Ball State University, told Bestlifeonline.com that it may be best to have two pairs of shoes: one for work and one for wearing at home.
14. You’re Keeping Your Blinds Closed
Since you’re not getting outside as much now, you should get in the habit of opening your blinds on a daily basis — especially when the sun is shining. It’s important to get as much sunlight as possible. Not just for vitamin D, although that certainly helps to boost your immune system, but to also promote mental well-being by increasing your serotonin levels. This, in turn, lowers your blood pressure and helps you get better quality sleep. So, turn off those artificial lamps for a bit and turn on the sunshine! Your body will appreciate it.
13. You’re Opening Packages on Your Kitchen Table
Nothing is more exciting than getting an expected or unexpected package in the mail. But, don’t become forgetful in all of your excitement. The coronavirus is still out there, and there’s a chance, albeit minimal, that your package could contain germs that spread the virus. So, instead of heading straight for your kitchen table, open those packages outdoors. Then, immediately throw the waste into the recycling bin. After that, you can bring the contents of said package indoors. Last, but certainly not least, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
12. You’re Taking Your Gloves Off Wrong
Believe it or not, there’s a specific technique that must be employed to prevent the transfer of germs to your hands when removing your gloves. “Healthcare personnel never touch the outside of the glove when they take them off,” internal medicine physician Roberto Contreras II, MD, the regional medical director of Borrego Health, told Bestlifeonline.com. “They peel one glove over the other and then use the inside-out glove to touch the remaining glove. However, I see multiple people touching things in the store with their gloves hoping to avoid contact with surfaces, but once they return to their car they take the gloves off inappropriately and expose themselves to what they were trying to avoid in the first place. It defeats the purpose if someone does not take the gloves off in the correct fashion.”
11. You’re Wearing Contact Lenses
While wearing contact lenses isn’t an unhealthy habit in general, doing so during this pandemic can put you at an increased risk of exposure to the coronavirus. This is due to the fact that contact-lens wearers already have a higher risk of corneal infections and conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pink eye) due to viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. These risks are even higher for people who don’t clean their lenses properly, sleep in them, wear them past the expiration date, or just simply are not washing their hands. Not only that but wearing glasses can shield your eyes from the respiratory droplets that are released when a person sneezes. But, if you’re wearing contact lenses and those droplets contain the coronavirus, they can potentially get into the mucous membranes of your eyes, and COVID-19 can be transmitted into your body.
10. You’re Letting Your Beard Grow
There’s nothing wrong with a little stubble on your chin, but if you’re starting to look like a caveman, you might want to shave some of it off. It’s not that there’s a risk of COVID-19 being transmitted through your beard, it’s the fact that your beard can get in the way if you want to wear an N95 mask. “If someone has facial hair, a beard, the mask will not make a tight seal and exposes the individual to what they are trying to protect themselves from. A N95 mask or surgical mask will make a better barrier if people do not have facial hair,” Contreras told Bestlifeonline.com.
9. You’re Rubbing Your Eyes
Now that you’re spending more time at home, you might find yourself glued to the computer, TV or cell phone all day. And, staring at those screens for prolonged periods of time can cause your eyes to become tired. As a natural reaction, you decide to rub them. But, that one small act could be hazardous to your health. Any surfaces you may have touched may have had germ-ridden droplets on them. And, when you touch your eyes, you can easily become infected.
8. You’re Not Taking Care of Yourself
Smoking, unhealthy eating, and drinking alcohol in excess makes the coronavirus more fatal to men than women, according to research. That’s not to say that if women do those things they won’t be at high risk. What the research is saying is that men are more likely to do these things, and as a result, the coronavirus is more fatal to them. “When we look at the data what we’re seeing is that in every country with sex-disaggregated data . . . there is between a 10 percent and 90 percent higher rate of mortality amongst people diagnosed with COVID if they are men compared to if they are women,” Global Health 50/50 co-director Sarah Hawkes told New York Daily News.
7. You’re Biting Your Nails
We all know that biting your nails is a bad habit. But, biting them in the middle of a pandemic can turn that bad habit into a deadly one. According to Bestlifeonline.com, Ellie Murray, ScD, a professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health, told WGBH that biting your nails allows the coronavirus to get into your mouth. “Anything you do to kind of help the virus get from the outside world into those moist parts of your face is going to increase your risk of catching the virus,” she said. Unfortunately, according to ValuePenguin’s Unhealthiest Habits survey, 18 percent of Americans admit to biting their nails regularly.
6. You’re Being Careless with Your Cell Phone
According to ValuePenguin’s Unhealthiest Habits survey, over 45 percent of Americans admit that they sleep next to their phones. Unfortunately, this habit can help spread the coronavirus. “The cell phone is on a surface, and if that surface has any viruses/bacteria on it, it then attaches to the cell phone,” Contreras told Bestlifeonline.com. “People then bring their phone to their face and expose themselves to all the viruses/bacteria they have been trying to avoid. To better avoid this unnecessary exposure, people should always keep their cell phones on their person.”
5. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
More than half of Americans admitted to ValuePenguin’s Unhealthiest Habits survey that they get less than seven hours of sleep per night. And, while you may be the type who’s able to function off very little sleep, now is not the time to be a night owl. As studies have shown, not getting enough shut-eye weakens your immune system, putting you at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. If, by chance, you have trouble falling asleep at night, make some adjustments to your nightly routine. For example, you could take a warm, relaxing bath right before bedtime. You could also limit your caffeine intake before bed. And, don’t forget to adjust the room temperature to a setting that’s just right for you.
4. You’re Picking Your Nose
First of all, this is just a nasty habit anyway whether or not there’s a pandemic. But, if you’re a repeat offender or even just an occasional nose picker, this is one habit you want to drop ASAP. That’s because picking your nose during a pandemic such as this is dangerous to your health. If you’ve been touching things in public spaces, be it the shopping cart at the supermarket or the buttons in the elevator of the building you work or live, you’ve picked up germs on your fingertips. And, when you put your fingers in your nose, your sinuses absorb those germs, which then make their way through your body and infect you with viruses, including COVID-19.
3. You Don’t Replace Your Kitchen Sponges
Wiping down your kitchen counters is a good way to keep COVID-19 and other germs at bay in your home. But, don’t forget to replace those sponges every so often. That’s because a study published in Scientific Reports showed that dirty kitchen sponges can contain over 362 different species of bacteria and about 45 billion microbes per square centimeter! And, if you use that dirty sponge, you can spread those contaminants to other surfaces and possibly cause yourself and everyone in your household to become ill.
2. You’re Sharing Cosmetics
Sharing cosmetics is not a good idea anyway, because you never know if a person has some type of infection. But, it’s especially bad to share your cosmetics with others now — even if you’re living in the same household. “Coronavirus can be found and transmitted through ocular secretions, like tears, so it’s important not to share eye drops or cosmetics with family members or friends,” Kevin Lee, MD, eye physician and surgeon at the Pacific Vision Eye Institute, told Bestlifonline.com. “It’s possible for the tip of the eye dropper or mascara to be contaminated by coming in contact with the ocular secretions of someone who is COVID-positive.”
1. You’re Not Changing Your Air Filters
If you don’t replace your air filters regularly, they will get filled with dirt, dust, bacteria, microorganisms, and other contaminants, which will then flow freely throughout your home. This can lead to a wide array of ailments, including headaches, nausea, sinus congestion, tiredness, and eye, nose, and throat irritations, which could then make you more susceptible to infections. That being said, you should be changing your air filters every one to three months, depending on the usage and size of your unit.
TIP: Stock up on air filters so you can change them as recommended.
Stay safe, and don’t forget to practice social distancing. Feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!