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  • Lindsay Carretero


Lindsay Carretero wearing a mask

Wearing a face mask is second-nature for healthcare workers, dental hygienists, construction workers and more. Professionals have had time, training and experience to guide their way for mask wearing Do’s and Don’ts. But if you’re like me and have never had to wear a face mask before, you may also be like me who is having a hard time breathing while wearing one.

When a face mask is worn properly covering both our nose and mouth and no air escaping on the sides, it limits our breathing, is hot and uncomfortable. To help alleviate this frustration, MY instinct, when wearing a mask, is to breathe through my mouth. Inhale… Exhale… In my line of work, I know this to be true: more air is able to come into my lungs at one time by breathing in through my mouth as opposed to my nose. That seemed to help my discomfort. What I didn’t know was that I was not protecting myself sufficiently.

Did you know that there is a specific way you SHOULD be breathing while wearing a mask? Cleanroom World says, “You MUST breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. This is essential for you as well as your environment. By breathing in through your nose, the cilia (hairs inside of your nose) will catch particles coming into your body verses breathing in through your mouth, the particles will go directly into your body / lungs (it also helps to warm the air that you are breathing). By breathing out of your mouth into the face mask simply lets air escape faster and releases pressure.”

Here are 5 TIPS on how to breathe effectively and easily, in through your nose and out through your mouth, with a face mask on:

1. ADJUST THE PLACEMENT: Check out the metal strip that goes over your nose. Make sure you’re not constricting the air flow in through your nose by the metal strip being pinched too tight. Also, try loosening the bottom of the mask slightly to allow your exhale to escape the mask a little easier at your chin.

2. BREATHE NORMALLY AND TRY NOT TO CREATE MORE TENSION: I noticed that I was holding my jaw in a tense and fixed position when I first started wearing the masks in an effort to keep it in place. Trust the ear loops or other fasteners on the mask to keep it on your face. You don’t have to CHANGE anything, breathing with or without a face mask on. Try to pretend like the mask isn’t even there.

3. ​BREATHING TAKES PRACTICE: I know that sounds silly but when we are adding the impeding presence of a face mask to our regular breathing routine, I suggest you practice wearing the mask a few times at home. Put one on while you’re doing the dishes or folding laundry – something you can easily do while becoming more comfortable with the amount of air you will be able to inhale through the mask.

4. REMEMBER THE REASON YOU’RE WEARING THE MASK: Sometimes I get so frustrated with the mask that I get all hot and flustered. The main goal is for us to get through this time keeping everyone as safe and healthy as possible. Wearing a mask is one small way YOU can contribute to the greater good of our community. Try to remain as calm as possible so you don’t switch into a fight or flight response. “We can do hard things,” Glennon Doyle.

5. IMAGINE AS IF… YOU’RE IN A SAUNA: Sauna experts recommend relaxed and slow breathing through your nose and not to talk unnecessarily (Lazne Hodonin Spa). Okay, maybe a sauna isn’t the right image for YOU but think of an image that might make it just a little easier to breathe. Maybe your happy place is a tropical beach in Hawaii or playing soccer in the Florida sunshine. Every little bit helps and your imagination can bring a lot of relief. Also, talking encourages you to inhale through your mouth and we don’t want that now, do we? Enjoy your new found happy place in peace and silence.

Remember to wash your hands before you apply and after you remove your face mask. If you wear a face mask regularly in your line of work, please feel free to add a comment with your experience and expertise! Be well and breathe in ease with your mask firmly secure.

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