5 tips for making breathing with masks more comfortable!

So we have all heard that Melbourne is preparing for mandatory mask wearing. You’ve rushed out to order yourself a cloth/surgical mask, or perhaps you’ve made one yourself.

You’ve even followed WHO guidelines and learnt how to safely put on, wear and take off your mask.

GREAT. But now what?

Even though we know the reasons behind wearing a mask and want to do our bit to help stop the spread, doesn’t mean that it is easy or feels great on the first go. Fear not, we are here to help.

We here at Sound have been practicing in masks since we reopened in May, and wanted to share a few tips from our experience. The more people feel comfortable in masks, the more they are happy to comply, and the greater chance we have to get this back under control.

Ok? Let’s get MASK READY!

 

1 – Take it slow, through the nose

The first thing you will notice once you pop on your mask is often the heat and the humidity. We are not used to feeling our breath on our face, and this will heat things up and make it a bit uncomfortable. It is also common for people to start to breathe with their mouths, and often quicker as we get stressed. This only makes it hotter, and more wet!

In order to negate this, we need to remember to take it slow, and breathe through the nose. Nasal breathing not only helps to filter and warm the air, it also increases oxygen uptake in the lungs and encourages good diaphragmatic (belly/relaxed) breathing.

Try it yourself! Pop on your mask and take a few breaths with your nose, and now try a few with your mouth. Feel the difference?

Breathing slower and in a more relaxed manner will also help make it feel more comfortable. If you can, slow down your activity, don’t rush if you don’t have to. You will also benefit from a little practice – head on to…

2 – Practice makes perfect – especially for those with anxiety

Now that we know that mask wearing is easier when we take it slow and breathe through the nose, we can understand why mask wearing is harder if you are anxious, rushing or under stress. I highly recommend practicing with your mask while relaxed and at home, instead of putting it on for the first time when you are rushing out to the shops.

For those who have anxiety, practice is your friend! Try this gradual approach to mask wearing:

  • Sitting calmly and breathing comfortably, cup your hands over your mouth and nose and take a few relaxed breaths. Notice what you feel – take note of the temperature, where you can feel your hands contact your face, the sound of your breath on the inhale and exhale, how the air feels as it is coming in and our of your nose. Great. Now relax your hands. Repeat this process until it feels natural and almost boring.
  • Next, try the same relaxed process but just holding the mask up to your face. Notice what changes, what you can feel. Keep breathing normally through the nose, and then release. Repeat.
  • Put on your mask with the ear loops – practice relaxed, seated breathing for 2 minutes. In and out through the nose, breathing down to the belly.
  • Wonderful! Time to take a stroll around the house. Practice this relaxed breathing with your mask on and go for a walk to the kitchen. Make a cup of tea, fold some laundry. Wearing a mask will soon feel more normal.
  • Ok! Time to take this party outside. If you are still a little anxious, don’t worry it gets easier. Practice a short walk around the block or to the milk bar to start. Take it slow, through the nose.

3 – Make it comfortable

This one was KEY for me when we opened the clinic again. Always wash your hands before handling your mask. Take your time when you put on your mask to make sure it is adjusted properly. The game changer for me was using an ear saver to pull the loops off my ears. A kind nurse patient of mine brought be in a 3D printed one, but you can make your own using a piece of fabric and two buttons, or I was just using a bulldog clip to begin with.

Head to our Instagram for a video showing you more on how to make. it. work!

4 – Preparation is key

Think about where you will need your mask, and get a pack handy. I keep one in the car in a snap lock bag and a small hand santiser, and keep another in my bag with my ear saver so I am ready wherever I go. Having the hand sanitiser with you means you can adjust or remove your mask when you safe to do so, and putting your reusable one in a bag keeps it clean. Wash it regularly with soap and water of course, but this is for if you are coming and going through the day.

5 – Take safe breaks – for those wearing masks for long periods at work

Another important one for me. Taking adequate breaks for water, food and a relaxed break alone without the mask is important. Lunch time protocol for me is to sanitise my clinic room, wash my hands, remove my mask and DRINK WATER. If you are in the mask all day for work it is so easy to forget to drink.

Take SAFE breaks (wash/sanitise your hands before and after handling mask, place mask in a bag/clean area) regularly to make your day more comfortable.

Thanks so much for taking the time to get mask ready, Melbourne! We love you, thank you for your consideration and compassion and hope to continue to aide you throughout this tough time.

Rachel xx

Sound Osteo