During the COVID-19 crisis masks have become mandatory for most if not all. We have to wear them indoors when in public buildings. We have to wear them on public transportation, and in restaurants except when we are eating. Children have to wear them all day at school.
With everything going on in the world right now, the media has overlooked the anxiety that wearing masks is causing for some, particularly people who suffer from anxiety, panic and PTSD.
If you have been having anxiety while wearing a mask, read on for some tips and tricks on how to lessen/alleviate this anxiety as masks are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
How to Cope with Wearing a Mask
- Be aware of what you are telling yourself when wearing a mask. Thoughts like “I can’t breathe” or “this feels like the time when” will increase your anxiety and feelings of discomfort. Try to remind yourself that you can breathe. Studies have been conducted showing that wearing a mask does not impact oxygen availability. If wearing a mask is causing a flashback, remind yourself that the danger has passed and that was then and this is now, 2020.
- If you do find yourself having an anxious moment or panic attack, ground yourself in the present. Pay attention to things that you can see, hear, feel with your skin, taste or smell. For example, if you are anxious when out in the mall or grocery store, pay attention to what others are saying or the shapes and colours of things in your environment. If your breathing become shallow or laboured try taking deep breaths from your diaphragm or belly.
- Exposure therapy will help as well. If you feel anxious about wearing a mask, start by wearing one at home for 5 minutes and then 10 minutes and so on. This is particularly important with children that are returning to school. Take some time over the next few days to introduce your kids to masks in this way if you haven’t already.
- Remind yourself that wearing a mask is not forever. Masks can come off the moment you are outside a public building. In the past you may have gone to many stores or public places while out doing errands. Space these ventures in the community out over a longer period of time, so you can take your mask off.
- Check out different types of masks. All masks are not the same and come in different shapes and sizes. Ask friends and family members what is working for them.
If you are suffering from anxiety while wearing a mask and need further assistance, please contact me or go ahead and see how fast and easy it is to book an appointment online. I am a Registered Psychotherapist and Certified Canadian Counsellor with extensive experience with anxiety, depression and PTSD. Listening. Guiding. Caring.