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How Wearing a Mask Actually Helps With My Anxiety

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When you have glasses, wearing a mask can be challenging. The “COVID fog” is a nuisance. With a bit of adjusting though you can minimize the impact. The fabric, shape and design of your mask all play a part. After a bit of trial and error, an effective combination can limit fog due to regular breathing or environmental conditions such as moving from wintery frost to a comfy fire.

It took me a while but I finally found a tolerable mask combination only to discover that I still had unexpected and severe fogging episodes. At first I was puzzled and more than a bit frustrated and then I realized these occasions were tied directly to my level of anxiety. Something was triggering my body’s response even before I realized it. The fog and its severity were an indication of my own mental state.

At first this insight seemed to double the effect. I crumbled, overwhelmed by my own anxiety and its relentless pursuit. But then I realized that instead of being a new symptom of despair, the fog could be used as an early warning sign.

Now, the moment my vision begins to cloud, I stop and take stock of what I am doing. I ask myself if my reaction is due to some real threat or are my thoughts distorting the situation. I reflect using my CBT training to identify my thinking patterns, to determine if I am catastrophizing or labelling or something else. I then take a few deep breaths, do a quick body scan to reset and restore myself and then finally consider how best to manage my reaction, how best to prevent my anxiety from escalating out of control.

By stepping back to think about my thinking I have found the fog dissipates and I can begin managing a crisis even before I realized one was building. Rather than a nuisance, the fog has become a very helpful tool. It helps to challenge my cognitive distortions and let me live with a more balanced and helpful outlook.

Follow this journey on Poppysmata.

Getty image via Alessandro Biascioli

Originally published: February 9, 2021
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