Face-masks or face-coverings have had to be worn since the 24th July, as advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO). They have to be worn in shops and public transport. The government say that the latest medical advice; shows that it will help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, as the “infection droplets will be reduced between humans”. The exceptions to this rule are people that are unable to remove face-coverings on their own, also children under 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, unconscious or incapacitated. Alternative solutions should be made available for people who are deaf, have a mental- health condition, a sensory condition, younger children and when engaging in swimming or eating. It has to be noted that £100 fine can be imposed if a face mask is not worn in government advised places.
How can wearing a face mask bring on anxiety?
Wearing a face mask can make some people feel anxious; as you are unable to see body language and facial expressions; which in turn can cause lack of confidence, this can cause lack of hearing and uncertainty. Facial expression conveys emotion such as happiness, sadness, surprise and anger. When we talk to people in a shop, this is the human interaction part that we miss when wearing a face mask. However, the emotions of the eyes can still be used ,“to see what the person is feeling”, it becomes a lot more difficult. Bearing this in mind if you are deaf, the world of shopping and lip reading has become a far more difficult place.
Putting on a face mask can also cause anxiousness https://www.mind.org.uk/as you may not be able to breathe properly, this can be a symptom of anxiety. Some people say wearing face coverings cause them hot and sweatiness, alongside not breathing. Another symptom of wearing a mask that some people feel that the feeling of claustrophobia may creep in. If you already suffer from this it can may it much worse for you.
How do you know if you are feeling anxiety, due to wearing a face mask?
“Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.”https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/anxiety-symptoms/
The common effects on your body can be:
- A feeling like you are going to be sick, in your stomach,
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy,
- Pins and needles,
- Feeling restless,
- Headaches or backaches,
- Faster breathing or a strong heartbeat,
- Hot flushes,
- Sleeping problems,
- Grinding teeth at night,
- Having panic attacks.
If you feel any of these symptoms whilst wearing a face mask, or before or after putting on a face covering. It may be advisable to save yourself from distress and make the decision to not wear the mask. If you feel distress when wearing a mask, the government can not enforce a fine on you for this.
Is there any way I can control the symptoms of anxiety when wearing a face mask?
Symptoms of anxiety, when wearing a face mask, can be very scary in themselves and you will need to try and find ways of dealing with it at the moment so that you can carry on with your daily life routine.
Some ways of dealing with anxiety include:
- Talking to someone at the time – If you are worried about putting your face mask on and struggle to keep it on. It would be recommended that you talk to a friend or family close by. This can help, as they may give alternative views, they will support you in the moment and over time, it may become easier to wear a mask.
- Spend time focussing on your worries and write down the details of how you feel when you put the mask on, then write down ways that you feel will address the symptoms and fear of putting the mask on.
- Eat a healthy diet and take regular exercise – Find an exercise that you enjoy doing. This could be running, cycling, group exercise, fitness at the gym or a team sport and try to take part in it at least 3 to four times a week. Eating a healthy diet and drinking water will help your body feel fresh. Sugar and other fatty foods can leave your body feeling groggy and this could have a negative effect on your emotions.
- Use mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness means focussing entirely on the situation at hand. So when you put the mask on. Look at your surroundings and take in what is around you. This will help you not to focus on the face covering, this will help to keep your mind occupied.
- Keep a gratitude diary. Each night before going to sleep, write down as many good things that you can remember that you are grateful for, that happened on that particular day. This will help train your mind on the good things and make eventually take away the ngative connotations of the face covering.
- Talk to people who have similar reactions to face coverings to you. Try finding local Facebook groups or general local groups where people with similar feelings can confide with each other.
Is there any other support for me?
There are a number of national companies that can help immediately in a time of crisis. These are:
Samaritans: Call 116 123. Anytime of the day if you need help. They will help with anxiety and any other mental health problem that you may have.
Sane line Available between 4:30pm to 10:30pm, everyday, on 0300 304 7000.
The Mix This is aimed at under 25’s. You can call them between 2pm and 11pm everyday on 0808 808 4994.
What can TLC Counselling offer you?
TLC Counselling can offer you a free mini telephone consultation. This will help decide the best solution for you in the long- term. You are not obligated to sign up. Please check out in more detail, what we can do for you. I offer individual counselling, young people and child counselling, relationship counselling and life coaching. Please call me on 07775 918572, to talk to me.