I feel so stupid. I fight with myself. Sometimes it actually stops me from going out. Wearing a mask is bizarre. It changes the way I feel about me. Does it you?
I am both self-conscious wearing it, and angry to be told I have to. At the very least, it’s a loss of autonomy. I am also angry that along with this requirement to wear a mask comes the suggestion that we police others. Doesn’t that seem rather dangerous?
Yes, I am aware of all the reasons. Yes, there is a virus. Precautions are a good idea, I know there are people in the high-risk group. I am. It is just that this mask thing works in reverse on me. Instead of “We’re all in this together,” it feels like the mask re-enforces “I’m afraid of you,” fear and separation.
Covering our faces hides an important part of our identities. We become nearly faceless to each other. Psychologically, that makes it even easier to fear others. Before this happened, what would you have felt if you encountered a masked person outside of a hospital? Doesn’t some aspect of that feeling prevail?
Vigilance is a natural reaction to fear. The six-foot rule reinforces that. And, fear also causes us to avoid eye contact— remember in grade school when you were afraid the teacher would call on you? You purposely avoided making eye contact with him or her.
With my mask on, you can’t see my face — my smile — I can’t see yours. Sure, you can see a smile in a person’s eyes, if you make eye contact. I found that challenging before, now it is nearly impossible. I tried the smile-with-your-eyes thing, people look at me like I am crazy.
Now, even with my mask on and standing at the prescribed six-foot distance, if I dare speak to someone, I’m treated as if I’ve just jettisoned particles of plague on them. Being feared by others feels awful. I realize now that there are segments of our population who experience that feeling more often than not. In that, this has taught me something valuable.
It seems to me that fear is more viral than the virus. The virus is contracted from outside of us, IF we come in contact with it. But, fear lives within and is ever present.
Living in fear is a threat to the immune system. Why are we not hearing more about that? How is it we overlook that fear is a power tool in the wrong hands? It’s not that a virus like this isn’t serious; the fear of it simply breaks down your immune system. It is so counterproductive to health.
Don’t take my word about the dangers of fear – here’s a link to a March 2020 article from Psychology Today that states, “The panic surrounding the corona virus is sweeping our world, and while I’m not minimizing the seriousness of the virus, the panic itself is making us all more susceptible to its potential spread.”
And, even before this virus became the hot button, here’s one from the 2017 American Journal of Managed Care, which puts immune system dysfunction as the top of the list of potential effects of chronic fear on overall health.
Fear, especially when it’s constant and intense, is a little bit of death every minute you are in it.
I’ve chosen not to be fearful, rather to do all I can to boost my immune system. And, I’m working on shifting my perspective about having to wear a mask. I am choosing to focus on the fact that I’m doing it for the benefit of others.
I am also choosing to smile more. Because According to this article in Psychology Today, a smile is not only a good kind of contagious, it also boosts the immune system.
What are you feeling these days? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. If you read my last blog, Gosh Darn, What did BH&G know? you might be interested to know that two people reported that they have actually darned socks, and one even became interested in trying it after reading my blog post. Love it!