For some survivors, wearing a mask can trigger memories of abuse, such as the feeling of having a hand covering your mouth or your face pushed into a pillow.
They can also make us feel claustrophobic which can trigger fears of having a panic attack or losing control of our breathing.
Practice wearing your mask at home
If wearing a mask in public has been particularly triggering for you, try practicing wearing one at home or in environments where you already know you feel safe.
Take the time to get used to how the mask feels on your face.
This will make you feel more prepared and relaxed for when you might have to wear the mask in less familiar or more stressful situations.
If you feel uncomfortable wearing a mask, you could consider wearing a scarf or handkerchief over your mouth instead.
Although the feeling may be similar, it may be less restrictive and more familiar if it is an item you’ve owned for a long time.
You could even make your own mask with fabric that makes you feel happy and feels comfortable on your skin.
Find the right face covering
Some masks fit better than others depending on the size and shape of your face.
If you can find a mask that is comfortable and doesn’t irritate you, this will help you stay relaxed in public.
Make your mask smell lovely
If there is a particular smell that you find relaxing, such as lavender, you could invest in a pillow spray that you can lightly spray a fabric mask with 20 minutes before you need to use it.
That way, by the time you come to wear the mask, the smell won’t be overpowering, but just enough to relax your senses and keep you grounded.
You could also add herbs, flowers or sprigs into the filter pouch of your mask (be sure to change them regularly).
Keep Grounding Techniques in mind
If you feel triggered when you are out in public, whether this is due to masks or being overwhelmed by busy places, try considering grounding techniques.
These can be small practices such as breathing mindfully or using positive coping statements that help you connect with the present and calm you down.