Ever have the need to wash your hands incessantly at multiple times throughout the hour, run away from the smallest cough, or cringe at the thought of a germ finding its way to within millimeters of you?
Other than being an extremely careful person, you may be a victim of mysophobia, or germophobia. Here are some survival tips to the brave souls that have to face the public every day in spite of their fear. Results may vary.
1. Carry hand sanitizer, cleansing wipes, and tissues not only for yourself, but for other people that you suspect will expose you. You don’t even have to be obvious about it, bring it up in casual conversation: “Hey, I have more hand sanitizers than I know what to do with. Care to take them off my hands?”
2. Your elbows can be hands too. When in doubt, use your elbows to open doors when your hands are tingling at the possibility of germ contact on a doorknob. However, if it requires more effort, use those tissues you carry around and dispose of them in the nearest trash bin.
3. Build strong immunity. You gain a strong immune system through eating healthy, taking
supplemental vitamins and exercising. Being good to your body beforehand takes away the fear
of being attacked by the germs that lurk at every turn.
4. More than 90% of the cells in our body are bacteria, said Dr. Heping Zhou, an associate professor in the department of biological sciences. It’s not a natural instinct to think that the things that give us fears are actually a part of what makes our bodies function. Know that not all germs are bad germs.
5. It’s all in your head. In an effort not to discredit legitimate phobia of germs and give a light at the end of a bacteria-filled tunnel, in many cases, your fear of contracting germs and sickness can be psychosomatic, according to an article in The Telegraph written by neurologist Suzanne O’ Sullivan. In other words, it’s not the germs you should be worried about, it’s what your mind is telling you about germs that’s driving you crazy!
6. Take those germs head on. Even though it’s easier said than done, sometimes the best way to deal with your fears is to look them in the face. Slowly expose yourself to situations that eventually approximate your fear of germs.
Dominique Mcindoe can be reached at dominique.mcindoe@ student.shu.edu.