Blogs, Coronavirus, Mental Health and Wellbeing

Face masks make me anxious. Here’s why.

I miss how life used to be before Covid came along. Remember when you could head out for a relaxing day of shopping? Maybe stopping along the way for a coffee and a cake or perhaps sampling the lunch menu of a nearby pub?

Those were the days eh? When you could do all of those things whenever you wanted and you didn’t have to wear a mask? Humph, stupid masks. Covering up our faces and protecting us from the deadly virus. Who do they think they are?

The humble face mask is, of course, the must have fashion accessory this year. They come in all different shapes and sizes, colours and designs and, when worn correctly, they help to prevent the spread of Coronavirus alongside frequent hand-washing and practising social distancing. Hands, face, space indeed.

But masks still have the ability to really drive my stress and anxiety levels up. Not because of having to wear one you understand. I’m absolutely fine about wearing a mask when I go out. I’m happy to do anything I can to help slow the spread of the disease and protect the most vulnerable within the community.

It’s not like wearing a face mask for an hour while you pop to the supermarket is going to hurt you is it? You can still breathe through it perfectly well. You can still have a conversation while you’re wearing it. Even if you wear glasses like I do it’s not a problem to wear a mask. As long as you’re wearing the thing correctly you shouldn’t have any issues with your lenses steaming up.

No, the reason why face masks stress me out and make me feel anxious is because of other people.

I actually lost count today of the amount of people in Tesco – both customers AND staff – who either weren’t wearing a mask at all or were wearing the damn thing incorrectly.

Now I appreciate that there are a miniscule amount of people who are exempt from wearing a face mask for health reasons. I get that. But – and I kid you not – at least half the people in that supermarket this morning were wandering around sans mask. And a good proportion of the rest were wearing their mask incorrectly.

Image credit: Vale.com

It baffles me how 8 months into this wretched pandemic people STILL don’t seem to understand how to wear a face mask in the correct way.

Why, for example, do some people wear their face mask over their mouth but leave their nose hanging out over the top? I mean come on! Have they never seen other people wearing their masks over both their nose and their mouth and wondered why they were doing it? Have they not seen people on television doing the same?

Next there are the people that feel they have to remove their mask in order to speak to somebody. Why do they do that? Do they honestly believe that their voice cannot penetrate a thin layer of cloth? I’ve seen so many people in the shopping centres here removing their mask in order to answer a phone call for goodness sake. Hell, I saw the guy working on the fish counter at Tesco remove his to speak to a customer earlier. Do these people possess some strange misguided belief that their mouth won’t work correctly unless it’s uncovered?

Then there are the fiddlers. Those people that can’t help but keep fiddling with their mask while they’re wearing it. Pulling at it. Pinching it. Lifting it off their nose and mouth to “gasp” for air. It’s almost as if they have some sort of nervous tick or they’re suffering from mask-related Tourette’s. They just can’t leave it alone!

Lastly, there are the chin maskers. The people that insist on walking around with their mask on their chin instead of over their nose and mouth. Even though it’s common knowledge that the chin isn’t a part of the respiratory system and that by doing so is in hygiene terms tantamount to wiping the mask on the nearest public toilet seat.

I really don’t understand why so many people have such difficulty in wearing a face mask correctly. Is it because they genuinely don’t understand how to? Is it because they think that by refusing to do as they’ve been told that they are somehow rebelling against the state? Is it just sheer ignorance on the part of the offender?

Whatever the reason, the longer these people insist on flouting the rules the longer it is likely to take for life to get back to something that resembles normality.

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