It is already compulsory to wear a face mask on public transport across the UK and the Government have now declared from 24 July, everyone will have to wear a face mask in shops in England.
This measure is already taking place in shops in Scotland, while Northern Ireland and Wales are considering introducing the measure.
Even though face masks are recommended to protect yourself and others around you, it can feel strange having something covering your face. For some people who suffer with anxiety, it can make them feel claustrophobic and like they can’t breath properly.
To help yourself feel more comfortable and confident while wearing a mask, there are some things you can do.
To feel more confident with wearing a face mask, the best way is to practice wearing it before you leave the house. According to Dr Ali Shakir, from the Harley Health Centre, she told Metro.co.uk: ‘One helpful exercise before you go out is to practice exposure by putting the mask on for two minutes at home so you start to feel safe in it in the knowledge that you can take it off anytime. Then you can increase this by five minutes and repeat the exercise whilst at home.’
It might be worth thinking about changing the style of the face mask. Some are more fitted around the face, while others expand around the face and sit on the sides. Some prefer wearing something on the nose to keep it tight but if this is making you feel more anxious, try one without that element.
You may also find that the face masks is tight around your ears so you can try one with ties or buy a headband to clip onto your ears. You might prefer a neck gaiter as your nose and mouth has to be covered, but as these are looser at the bottom, you may be more comfortable.
Once you have practised wearing your mask and found one that you are comfortable with, you need to get used to breathing with the face mask in a way that keeps you calm. If you have a medical condition which causes breathing problems, it is not compulsory for you to wear one.
For those who can wear a face mask, respiratory health experts at PN Medical have some tips to help you feel more in control of your breathing when wearing a face mask.
- Take five quality breaths: A quality breath is a four second inhale through the nose, six second exhale through the mouth, and a two second pause. You should do this five times right before putting on your mask, another five times right after you have the mask on and again when you are going to remove the mask. You can also try this if you feel you are struggling to breathe in your mask.
- Longer and slower: Notice people around you. Some change their breathing patterns while wearing a mask. Combat this by taking longer, slower breaths while you are wearing yours.