You may have found that your anxiety has been worsening since the introduction of mandatory mask wearing. Even just the thought of having to put one on may trigger unwanted emotions and irrational thoughts.
Covid 19 has already affected a huge number of people throughout the world. Some ,however, may not have felt the significance of the virus’ safety measures just yet.That is, until the point when they must start wearing them to buy their food shopping or to use public transport.
There may be a host of different reasons in which masks could cause you anxiety and you may find yourself justifying these emotions. You could suffer with respiratory problems, claustrophobia or have trouble with communication. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone in the way that you are feeling. Unfortunately for some, there have been many negative implications stemming from the lockdown, so it is how you deal with the thoughts and move forward that is important.
Why are you feeling this way?
Many people agree that talking to somebody who is wearing a mask can confuse them, they may not be able to fully comprehend what the other person is saying, especially if they have hearing difficulties. What is important to remember however, is that the person you are speaking with may feel the same about your mask.
For others it could be a more deeply rooted issue, their anxiety could correlate with an experience they had when they were younger and has been imprinted into their programming and social development. If you have a history of claustrophobia or panic disorder, you can take comfort in knowing that through mindfulness and meditation, you can reduce your stress and anxiety.
Notice the triggers
If you feel that you are beginning to feel uneasy and notice that your tell tale signs of anxiety or panic are brewing, tell yourself that you have identified it and you are conscious of these emotions.
Imagine a large red and white STOP sign right in front of you, picture this every time you feel that you are beginning to feel the first signs of anxiety. In your head, silently say the words “STOP” without anger or frustration and allow your thoughts to clear for a few seconds and then focus on something positive or something that you are grateful for.
Reacting to these emotions and triggers in negative ways is called catastrophizing and it can often direct us away from the real issues that are bothering us. You may know people who will think of all the bad possibilities about going out or doing something they do not like. The negatives will tend to outweigh the positives.
As an example, someone may choose not to attend a social event because they are worried about catching the last bus home and as a result it is used as an excuse not to attend. Think about all the ways that you could deal with this situation. You could get a taxi or bus, share a lift with someone, stay at a friend’s home or at a hotel. Suddenly the catastrophe does not seem so huge, and you can learn to appreciate your own resourcefulness.
Use that practice and apply it to wearing a mask when you visit the supermarket. Think to yourself, am I in immediate danger? Will this mask cause me any harm? Once you have learnt to notice your triggers and stop catastrophizing, just the thought of being aware will help you.
Technique for releasing anxiety
Anxiety and stress can really take it out of you! Releasing that tension through meditation is a great way to let your body and mind rest and recuperate. Your judgement can become very clouded when it is operating in such negative ways, so try this technique. You can practice it for as long as you want but it is suggested that beginners should allow at least 20-30 minutes to really feel the effects.
- Find somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. Make sure that you are comfortable, it is best to lie down on a bed or a couch.
- If there is daylight, draw your curtains or blind and switch off the lights and light a candle and place it in front of you but make sure it is positioned safely.
- Stare into the flame, draw your attention to how it moves, how it flickers and how wonderful and warm it looks. Breath in very deeply and slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth creating a circular breathing pattern. Clear away any thoughts so that you mind becomes clear and centred.
- Do not worry if you get the odd unwanted thought. Just centre your mind again and allow the thought to drift away. Focus on your breathing and the stillness of the moment.
- Continue to stay focused and try to keep any thoughts out of your mind. Enjoy the feeling of peace and calm for as long as you like whilst embracing this pleasant state.
This is a fantastic technique for those that are new to meditation as the aim is to concentrate on only one thing: the flickering flame. Once you can keep your mind silent for longer periods of time you can start to concentrate on problem solving or letting go of a particular worry whilst in this state.
When you have finished, blow out the candle and you will be amazed at how good you will feel afterwards. You will find that you have a new perspective on problems and can deal with things with greater clarity. Good luck!