Afraid of being without a mask? Learn how to deal with anxiety

The pandemic was horrible in many ways. Everywhere there were alarming numbers about deaths, hospitalizations, sequelae caused by Covid-19, social chaos, which naturally cause feelings of fear and even panic, and more emotionally sensitive people ended up suffering much more.

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The time to remove masks, both outdoors and indoors, has gradually arrived throughout Brazil, soon after countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and France have released them. However, there are people who have been afraid to stop using such protection.

“Thinking about going back to things similar to what happened in the pandemic, awakens in our brain a need for safety and protection, where at this moment anxiety occurs and, consequently, the fear of not using masks”, explains Eloisa Feltrin, a psychologist specializing in existential phenomenological theory.

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Such permission has generated numerous impacts, positive and negative, even resistance in some people, even among children, adolescents and young people. “A 5 to 7-year-old child spent a good part, if not all, of the school period of his life before the use of masks and taking them off can cause estrangement and resistance”, says psychologist Michele Maba.

Therefore, it is necessary that the change be carried out in a natural and gradual way, without the sudden imposition, respecting the particularity and limitations that the pandemic routine has brought.

How to deal with the fear of taking off the masks?

Eloísa indicates that, for people who are afraid to take off their masks, it is important that they work with their conscience, the way they built a relationship with the use of the protection item and with the pandemic, giving new meaning to what happened.

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Some people have acquired panic from social relationships and having to get in touch with this reality again, can be chaos in emotional health, explains the psychologist. “In this way, it is important to know about which places the person is frequenting. You cannot go to the show and expect that everyone is complying with the use of masks, even if they are now flexible”, warns Eloísa.

Due to the uniqueness of each human being, it is necessary to understand how each one’s view of these changes is being. Thus, each person must seek to know what their limits are. After all, the feelings caused by the absence of the mask are individual, and the comparison should be left aside, considering the real need on a case-by-case basis.

trigger for anxiety

“Is it safe to go without a mask indoors?” “Can I talk to someone without wearing a mask and without risk of contamination?” These are some of the questions that have been going through some people’s minds when they are faced with the end of the mandatory use of masks, whether in an open environment or not.

In cases where the anxiety generated is not exacerbated to the point of paralysis or panic, in addition to seeking to rationally understand that the risk of contamination is minimal, it is important to look for opportunities to overcome any anguish, facing fear or whatever causes it.

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“People who don’t suffer from anxiety deal with the risk of contamination in a statistical way. However, there are people who, due to their more vulnerable health, can trigger emotional fragility added to anguish, when they think about the possible diseases they can acquire because they are supposedly failing to comply with care”, explains Michele.

To face fear, Michele explains that people can gradually free themselves from wearing the mask, in open environments with fewer people, until they feel the urge to circulate among more people, gradually getting used to it, through systematic desensitization.

Eloísa believes that doing such a desensitization process, gradually stopping using the masks, can be a great alternative for the anguish to give space to a lighter and calmer life. “The uncertain moments lived during the pandemic, today give space for a reconnect, with new possibilities, which needs to be looked at with affection for each story. Getting back to bonding with friends, talking to family members about your feelings, is a great push for this exit”, highlights the professional.

Faced with an anxiety crisis, what to do?

We all feel anxiety, it is what maintains our life and prevents us from putting it at risk. However, Eloísa warns of feelings such as exhaustion, intense stress, difficulty in starting and/or finishing things, intense stomachaches and nail biting habits and even more aggressive ones such as pulling out one’s own hair, which demonstrate that mental health is not very good. .

Anxiogenic thoughts, that is, anxiety-generating thoughts, can become crisis triggers for people with OCD, generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder, Michele warns.

In cases where not using a mask becomes an anxiogenic trigger, it is important that the person exposes himself to situations that allow him to overcome fear only with the help of a health professional, so that he does not increase his suffering with a mental illness.

“For people suffering from an anxiety disorder, such as panic syndrome, it is important that when faced with a crisis, they seek to control their breathing, moving to a place where they feel more relaxed and favoring the rationalization of the low risk of contamination”, guides the professional.

Having looked for a place that she considers safe, Eloísa advises the individual to call someone to say how they are feeling and advise what the person can do to help, be it to call a security person or get some water. In addition, the professional indicates that both self-regulation, with breathing practices, and words of self-affirmation, highlighting how safe you are, are great alternatives for these moments.

Beyond Covid-19

In addition to protecting against the coronavirus, for some people, the mask fulfilled other functions, as a way of hiding unaccepted physical characteristics and even as a means of hiding feelings and expressions on the face. “People often went out without taking care of their own face, they hid either because they thought they were ugly or so that people couldn’t fully interpret them,” says Michele.

For such individuals, the absence of the mask may lead to greater exposure, which may become a trigger of anxiety, given the impossibility of not showing feelings that were previously hidden.

“This is the time to face reality again without using something that protects the hidden individual, even if the exposure is carried out gradually”, highlights the psychologist, who believes that some people have sought other means to protect themselves from their fears. “Women will end up using makeup that makes them feel more protected from a clean face, or they will use other accessories because they will feel that the mask is missing in some way,” she says.

How to remove the mask in your own time?

Through desensitization, Michele advises that each person seeks to stop using the mask, when allowed by legislation, respecting their own time, regardless of the reason why they still use it.

“Self-knowledge is the basis of everything. With it, the person, knowing when things are getting out of hand or when everything is fine, will know when they are ready to live the post-pandemic moment, approaching people, knowing new places, leaving the anxiety with the function that she really has care in her life, not control”, adds Eloísa.

In addition, it is important to remember that there is a possibility that people who wish to continue using the mask, after all, there are occasions – including something customary in the East -, that people with flu symptoms or other diseases use such an accessory to protect the next closest. vulnerable. “Respect will be the watchword in humanity to deal with the different thoughts of all of us in the midst of the changes we will face”, concludes the psychologist.

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