These are some very trying times we live in. We keep our obligations and move on, against the odds, towards a better tomorrow.
But with all the strength and grit we put out there, there are still things we have to take care of.
Mainly, ourselves. People with pre-existing disorders have seen an increase in symptoms, especially those of us with complex mental health diagnoses— such as eating disorders, that we’re working through day by day. If you’re one of the many people living with and fighting through these disorders, masks may be another point of anxiety or inconvenience on top of everyday life. In the interest of your health and everyone else’s, here are some easy face mask tips for people with such complexities.
Right Place, Right Time
Masks are an integral part of the working pandemic response, especially when it comes to a respiratory pathogen. According to both CDC and WHO guidelines, n95 masks are the gold standard for optimal protection. But you only need to wear them when you need to. If you’re alone or with people you live with that are not showing symptoms, there isn’t a need to wear the mask. If you’re doing a solitary activity like biking or hiking, keep it on hand and put it one when interacting with someone else, but you don’t need to keep in on while you huff and puff up the mountain.
The Right Fit
Use a face mask that fits. If you find yourself buying a generic mask, especially an n95, be sure to get one that is comfortably snug over your mouth and nose. One that’s too tight can be restricting. One that’s too loose can affect the seal an n95 is supposed to make around your face. The key thing is comfort. Taking them off to eat maybe a pretty big step. It may seem like a reasonable barrier to eating and an easy jump-off point for negative self-talk. But in our everyday practice of getting better, it’s okay to take it off, take a meal, and put it back on. The ease of this process is heavily dependent on a comfortable fit.
Throughout our recovery, it is encouraged that we go out and interact with people. It’s not the best idea to be holed up and isolated in a room while we actively recover from an eating disorder. The current state of things may not be conducive to this recommendation. But with masks, we can still go out and say hi to people. We can continue our lives and routines, just with a little added step. Don’t be afraid to interact with friends and family. The mask and a nice park bench make for a perfectly safe lunch date.
Masks are a form of common courtesy. It truly is an effective tool, even if it may spark some uneasiness. Just know that masks are a service to the community. It’s a flash of compassion and respect. It doesn’t detract us from our ultimate goals of kicking our eating disorders. In the end, it’s a step closer to a better, more understanding, and open future.