Wearing a face mask is required in more and more places. This, on its own, has a psychological effect on people but besides that it also has a significant impact on breathing.
Dyspnea Due To Face Masks
In this day and age, wearing a face mask to protect you and others around you, is becoming more and more the norm. It is now a social norm to wear a mask in most public spaces, depending on where in the world you live. This impacts us on several levels, for instance, it can cause breathing problems such as dyspnea, stress, and anxiousness.
In countries like Thailand, you can socialize outside without a mask but as soon as you enter an establishment, such as a shopping mall or grocery store, you are expected to wear a mask. Without one, you will not be allowed entry. While in countries such as Sweden, it is up to the individual to wear a mask or not.
Face Mask Requirements Causing Breathing Issues
There is no question that the face masks used today will carry both positive and negative effects. Yes, they will serve as protection for you and from your surroundings when it comes to preventing viruses and bacteria from spreading. The downside is that it has a negative effect on your breathing, not feeling like you are able to breathe properly. Giving you a feeling of heavy, or labored breathing.
This could then result in what medically is called temporary dyspnea, a feeling that you can’t catch your breath or that you are suffocating. If a person is going through any of these experiences, it can easily make you feel stressed or anxious, further deteriorating the condition.
As mentioned, one of the main symptoms of dyspnea is labored breathing. The root cause behind this could be an underlying medical condition that has been triggered due to the breathing difficulties caused by wearing a face mask or if you have undertaken a physical activity.
If you feel that you start having trouble breathing, step aside, and remove your mask. Try a method called square breathing, also known as box breathing.
Take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slow and relaxed breaths. Try the box breathing method, where you inhale to the count of 4, hold to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold to the count of 4. Then repeat this a couple of times and the effect should be immediate. This will not only help oxygenate the blood but also make you feel more relaxed and calmer. Additional box breathing benefits include increased focus and performance. This is one of many different breathing techniques you could try to help calm you down and calm your breathing.
If stepping aside and doing the breathing exercise does not work, we urge you to seek medical attention as soon as possible or call 911. The root causes behind your dyspnea could be something you are not able to correct yourself, requiring medical intervention.
Unable to Wear a Face Mask
If you are afraid of stepping outside due to the current conditions and are unable to wear a face mask as it causes your breathing problems or other issues then there are plenty of online services that are available for you. You are able to do your shopping online and have it delivered to your home. There are online courses that enable you to exercise doing yoga, pilates, meditation, or practice mindfulness.
Remember, if you elect to stay in, it is important that you keep both your body and mind engaged. A healthy body and mind is the foundation you need. If one of the two is not aligned, it will affect the other.
Stay tuned, our upcoming Anahana Academy will consist of several courses which will be focusing on breathing amongst other things. Make sure you sign up, so you are notified when the academy is launched and these tools are available for you to enjoy!
Written by Dr. Darlene Buan-Basit
Darlene has worked with everyone from Olympic level athletes to newborn babies, and genuinely loves helping people anyway she can! As a practicing Chiropractor with multiple certifications in yoga, pilates, and specialized breathing techniques, her unique skill set is world-class.