In response to the coronavirus crisis, we’re hearing about lots of public health guidelines that are designed to preserve our immunity. Some of these habits may already exist in our daily routines, but others, like avoiding contact with our face, can be a tricky adjustment. Global pandemic aside, making changes in our lives is never easy. But understanding what helps us form habits that stick can help a lot. 

The first step toward forming habits that stick is to start really small — smaller than you think. In his book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, behavior scientist BJ Fogg, writes that by “starting small with yourself and your family, you set off a chain reaction that creates an explosion of change.” And during these trying times, helping the people around us build healthier habits is a powerful gift. 

Fogg also encourages us to celebrate our tiny wins on the way to forming new habits, so we start associating positive emotions and a feeling of success with the habit. “It’s the emotion that your brain connects with the behavior that makes it become automatic, or in other words, a habit,” he told Thrive. 

A third tool at our disposal is habit stacking — adding a new habit we’re trying to form on top of an existing one.

As we adjust to the new public health guidelines, here are three small steps to try that that can help make new habits truly stick:

When washing your hands for 20 seconds, think of 3 things you’re grateful for. Gratitude can help you stay positive while you lower your risk of getting sick.

Every time you wipe down a surface, drink a glass of water. It’s a great way to do something for your environment and for your body at the same time. 

Ask your co-workers or family members to say “hands!” if they notice you touching your face. Having others hold you accountable will help you build awareness of the triggers that lead to idle face touching — with a bit of humor too.  


  • Alexandra Hayes

    Content Director, Product & Brand, at Thrive

    Alexandra Hayes is a Content Director, Product & Brand, at Thrive. Prior to joining Thrive, she was a middle school reading teacher in Canarsie, Brooklyn.