One day there will be movies and books told about this pandemic. Our kid and grandkids will watch video clips and read history snippets about the year when the world shut down. There will be photographs of people wearing face masks while standing feet apart from one another.
Although face masks seem like an inconvenient (and humid) solution to stopping the spread of COVID-19, they actually offer a few perks.
1. You don’t have to hide your true feelings
When a little kid smiles at you, how do you respond? You smile back! Your eyes analyze someone’s face, then your brain interprets their emotions and prompts your body to respond in kind. When that child smiles at you, your brain sees that the kid is happy and friendly so your brain encourages you to smile back.
When your community requests that it’s citizens wear face masks, your brain can’t read faces very well anymore. (Yes, your brain can still read someone’s eyes, but it’s much more difficult without the facial cues from your mouth.)
This can be advantageous for you. Inpatient at the massive line in Target? Scowl under your mask and no one will know. Bored during a meeting? Secretly yawn under your face mask. Shocked at the kid bathing in the complimentary hand sanitizer? Let your mouth gape wide open under your mask—but maybe try not to open your eyes as wide as dinner plates.
2. Spend less time grooming
Teeth, lips, beards, noses, and cheeks are stealthily stashed under your glamorous face mask. Which means you don’t have to trim your beard (or nose hairs) everyday. You can skip the lipstick. Don’t worry about applying blush. And no need to fuss over unwanted pimples or patches of breakouts.
We still recommend that you brush and floss so you don’t have to smell your own bad breath—although wearing a face mask means no one else will have to smell your oral stink!
Bonus: you also save a few bucks by purchasing less products. You’ll use less foundation, blush, and lipstick if you only apply eye makeup. Shaving less frequently means less expenses on razors and shaving cream too.
3. Be fashionable
You’re used to coordinating your belt with your shoes, your jewelry with your handbag, your attire with the events of your day. Why not coordinate your face mask with your outfit?
Face masks need to protect your mouth and nose, and secure behind your ears or your head. The healthcare masks come in a standard powder blue, but why can’t you make your own fashion statement?
Experiment with patterns, colors, and embellishments. Love cheetah prints? Make a mask out of that kind of fabric. Is your favorite color bright orange? Find elastic material or hair ties in that color to loops over your ears. Does your kid love soccer or ballet? Iron on a patch of soccer balls or ballet shoes.
If you’re wearing a mask frequently, create a variety to match multiple outfits or occasions. Wear the fun ones for shopping or errands, and opt for solid colors for professional meetings.
Wondering how to create your own face mask? Here are a few tutorials.
- Sew and no-sew face mask guidelines, from the CDC
- Face mask patterns, from Joann Fabrics
- Which kind of face masks work best, from the Guardian
- How to make a face mask out of a tee shirt, from Healthline
4. Represent your interests
Puzzle pieces. Pink ribbons. Blue stars. State flag. Alma mater. What are you passionate about? Display it on your mask! It’s easy to find old tee shirts or bolts of fabric with those icons. Construct a mask out of that fabric, or cut out the symbol and attach it to your mask like a patch.
Want to do more than just represent your interests? Sew masks that display your cause, sell them for a profit, and donate the earnings. Need ideas? Here are a few:
- Autism speaks
- Breast cancer awareness
- Make a wish
- Football team/university
- Local school or sports team
- Military organizations
It’s easy to pass by the cashier without really looking at her. It’s normal to say thanks to a waiter without pausing to look at his face. That feels natural because we can clearly hear their voice and understand what they are saying.
That’s not so easy in a culture of face masks. Now voices are muffled. Our brain tells us that we need to look at the speaker to read their lips. Obviously we can’t read lips through a mask (although there are some neat masks with clear fronts to aid the deaf). When our brain realizes that we can’t hear the speaker well, we naturally look at their lips. And we can’t read their lips hidden behind a fask mask, our ears heighten their senses so our mind can zone in to distinguish the words.
A great benefit of face masks is the forced encounter to actually listen. We must look at the speaker, concentrate on their words, and thoughtfully reply. Multitasking becomes tougher but most people don’t seem to mind. In fact, socializing after weeks of quarantine feels good (even with mask masks).
A not-so-surprising bonus
Wearing a face mask prevents the spread of germs. And it’s not a surprising benefit that we are minimizing the spread of this contagious virus. We can all participate in this process, even if we feel like it’s against our liberties or preferences.
Feeling your breath on your cheeks, hearing your breath exhales, anxiously inhaling to grasp more air. Wearing a face mask can feel suffocating, constricting, or claustrophobic. Dwelling on the reasons for wearing a face mask can spike anxiety. Being in public around people again arouses panic. Starting a new post-pandemic routine can be overwhelming.
If you’re struggling to wear a face mask or to bear the weight of living through a pandemic, you’re not alone. We have experience helping people just like you, and we have room for you. Call our office today so we can schedule an appointment (maybe a virtual one first so you don’t have to put on a face mask right away).
Teen Social Anxiety