Welcome to the weird world of COVID-19, where the new normal means keeping our distance from others and wearing a mask to cover your face.
It shouldn't bother us so much, but it does. Why?
The answer may be both psychological (feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty, fear) and physiological (rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, breaking out in sweats).
It's an added stressor of the pandemic and a physical reminder of how much our lives have changed and become socially detached from each other. For healthcare providers, it's a daily reminder of the fine line between life and death.
Physiologically, the area of the face that is covered by protective face masks happens to be very thermosensitive. An increase in temperature of the facial skin covered by fabric face masks significantly influences the whole body's thermal sensations, making that person feel hot.
People with underlying anxiety disorders or claustrophobia can be significantly affected by the emotional discomfort of wearing protective face masks. However, for most people, the discomfort is subjective and tends to diminish as one gets used to wearing the mask.
Since we'll be a mask-wearing society for a while yet, the CDC and mental health experts recommend the following strategies:
We also recommend you consider your mask this year's hottest new accessory and have some fun with it by making it your own. As private citizens, our protective face masks don't need to be medical-grade.