Wearing a Face Mask
Although we typically associate masks with healthcare, there are other scenarios where masks are required. Face masks are worn in many industries under various situations. For example, in laboratories or metal working sites, masks are often required as part of the job. Janitorial staff, factory workers, and even painters must all use face masks at one time or another.
Unfortunately, for some people wearing masks can trigger anxiety, called “mask anxiety.” Very often, those with mask anxiety have underlying problems like claustrophobia or generalized anxiety. Still, even people who don’t have claustrophobia can suffer from mask anxiety. Mask anxiety can become an issue in times when masks are required, perhaps for work, health, or safety.
Tips on Managing Mask Anxiety
If you have trouble wearing a mask, the following are a few tips to help you through.
Acknowledge Your Anxiety
Just the conditions under which a face mask might be required can make you anxious. For instance, undergoing radiologic treatments for cancer is already a stressful situation. Having to use a mask can make the stress worse, causing mask anxiety.
The first thing to do is recognize and understand why you feel anxious. A mask can be a reminder of stressful situations. You may also be misinterpreting physical changes of evidence of danger — even when they are not. Masks can feel hot and restrictive, which give the illusion of breathing difficulty. Even though a mask is safe to use, it can trigger the fight-or-flight response which causes mask anxiety. It helps to acknowledge and understand how you are feeling, in order to control your emotions.
You can remind yourself that face masks are safe. Although you may be more conscious of your breathing because air can be felt inside the mask, you still have adequate airflow. Face masks are made to allow for safe airflow around the mouth and nose. Research shows that face masks do not affect oxygen levels. Face masks are meant to keep solids and liquids out (like viruses, bacteria, and droplets) but commonly used face masks don’t keep out gases. And gases are what we use to breathe.
Practice Wearing a Mask
Even doctors and nurses, who wear masks almost every day, may experience mask anxiety when they first start wearing them. Eventually, however, the body and mind gets familiar with wearing a face mask and the anxiety subsides.
You can try wearing a face mask for brief periods at home. Keep adding to the length of time until you become comfortable enough in the mask. Your mind and body can build up tolerance towards mask use. Over time, you’ll become more familiar with the feeling of having something over your face, and you’ll have less anxiety.
Concentrate on Your Breathing
When you’re anxious, your breathing can become shallow and fast. Or you may find yourself holding your breath for long periods. In either case, you can make yourself feel more anxious. Instead, concentrate on breathing deeply from your belly. CalmiGo can assist you with this process.
If you feel anxious wearing a mask, you can use CalmiGo to focus on your breathing. Take a short break away from others, remove your mask, and use CalmiGo to guide your breathing and soothe your anxiety. With CalmiGo, you can face your mask anxiety.