Key Takeaway: Global Handwashing Day, celebrated last Thursday, is meant to raise awareness on the importance of washing hands regularly and properly as a habit – mainly to prevent diseases. But it also reflects awareness for yourself and others. Here are four tips on how to make handwashing a habit more effectively.
It’s the start of another week, and there’s something I’m looking forward to very much at the end of it: the MUNI Market on Saturday and Sunday, 24-25 October 2015, at the Capitol Commons in Pasig City. Habi Footwear will be there, so I’ll be there too!
(Read: My feature on MUNI)
MUNI is a community and a hub of creativity that advocates sustainable and mindful living. It screams of TDA’s own pillar of awareness: awareness towards yourself, towards the environment, and towards others. And so, in the days leading up to MUNI Market, we’ll be featuring here a short series of healthy living posts – and catch my feature of the Market itself!
So on to business, or rather pleasure.
Last Thursday, we celebrated Global Handwashing Day, a global campaign that advocates washing of hands at key moments throughout the day. Its purpose: to prevent diseases – a stark reality around the world especially in societies where hygiene and cleanliness is not as prioritized. It was established in 2008 by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW)
According to research, respiratory- and diarrhea-related diseases can rise by 25% and 50% respectively if proper hand-washing is not done; 1.8 million children under five die each year due to pneumonia, and 3.5 million children die due to pneumonia and diarrhea. Children under five can reduce the risk of respiratory infection by 21% and diarrhea by 30% if they practice hand-washing regularly. And by hand-washing, this means proper hand-washing, with soap and the right amount of time.
We usually see that hand-washing is healthy for you because it can help you prevent yourself from catching diseases. But hand-washing actually also expresses awareness towards others because humans are naturally interactive with each other. If your hands are dirty and you shake hands with others, you actually spread the risk of disease – and thus you show disrespect towards them. As a corollary, and necessarily, washing hands is a sign of respect towards others and towards yourself. The Muslims got it right in their teachings about cleanliness.
The problem is that, apparently, it is not a habit practiced as much worldwide, and it ought to be so. This is a big opportunity for children because habits are best formed in childhood, and because children are those at huge risk of diseases arising from poor hygiene. Washing your hands has to be a habit that would be for the benefit of you and of others.
That said, here are some ways to forge that habit of hand-washing.
1. Engage in hands-on (literally) activities
I understand that there are people who are just not as aware of the need for hygiene, and it would take more than constant prompting of mindset-changing for them. A good recourse would be to engage in activities that are literally “hands-on” – meaning activities that would get your hands into such a condition that would clearly necessitate washing your hands.
One ubiquitous – and character-building! – example is cooking, in particular when you’re doing so with meat. As a matter of fact, cooking only made my hand-washing habits even more intense… too intense I think.
Other interesting activities that would require you to get your hands dirty would be gardening, DIY, and cleaning. There are a lot of things you can do!
2. Examine your hands regularly
If purpose should be rooted in awareness, and one kind of awareness is self-awareness, then of the tips listed here, this is the most self-awareness-related of them all. You can’t go any deeper than that.
Some of the five senses are usually enough to tell when your hands are in need of a much-deserved cleansing. If you’re working somewhere particularly dusty, a quick look shows the blackness. Sometimes, you can smell the rather ripe, obnoxiously stimulating odor of dirt. Or you feel that your hands’ texture is somewhat different, in a not-so-nice way.
If you want to use the senses of taste and hearing to check if your hands are dirty, be my guest.
3. Bring some hand soap with you
Family and friends call me a Boy Scout for nothing – even though I had only a year of scouting in elementary school. The reason my bag is so heavy is because I’m a walking toolbox – I usually have everything for everyone. Today’s so-called digital or mobile age has brought many of us on our feet constantly, ensuring that our lifestyles are on-the-go. For someone like me, that means bringing, among others, a travel-sized bottle of hand soap.
4. Ask a friend
No man is an island, and there’s nothing like having a friend who can support you and whom you can support. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 to ask someone else who’s more conscious about their personal hygiene to help keep you in check – provided that they’re not forgetful and you don’t have the pride (something I unfortunately have, admittedly).