Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Let me just start off by saying I’m not anti-mask. I believe in protecting myself and the people around me, and a mask is a small price to pay for that safety. Yet my anxiety-addled brain doesn’t recognize that.

When the pandemic first started, I was at home during a school break. I was in quarantine so wearing a mask in my own home wasn’t necessary. However, as the pandemic progressed, me and the rest of the world needed to start wearing our masks more frequently. I didn’t mind; actually, it made me feel like one of my favorite fictional characters: Din Djarin. However, I usually experience social anxiety when I enter a new space–and sometimes even a familiar one. I began to notice that sometimes wearing a mask would make my anxiety flare-up. It was never bad enough that I wanted to rip off my mask and scream, but I could’ve never predicted how serious covid would become.

Flash forward to fall 2021. It’s another semester of masking on campus, but I don’t mind because I’m just grateful for in-person classes. I’m thrilled to see my friends and professors again, and my mental health feels better than ever before. Then one day, I show up to a meeting late, and the thought of putting on a mask as I enter the building makes me nauseous. I continue to have thoughts like this, each time still wearing a face mask no matter what. However, it wasn’t until I showed up to a counseling appointment recently, my face pale and sweaty, that I realized other people could see how anxious I was. It became a cycle of feeling anxious about the pandemic, hating the fact that my senior year of college felt restrictive, and then experiencing panic attacks from these thoughts.

My temporary solution has been to rush out of meetings or classes into the fresh air and remove my mask to ease the amount of panic I experience. Granted, this is not a permanent or healthy solution. I probably look like the campus nutcase. Plus, my first thought is that I must look like one of those Karens at the start of the pandemic complaining that they couldn’t breathe with masks on. Sure masks aren’t fun to wear, but I don’t want to complain about them since they’re saving lives.

I’ve had to acknowledge that my anxiety isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither are masks. I’ve begun developing my own coping strategies to deal with this reality. First, I limit the number of times I leave my dorm suite. This probably sounds counterproductive after the year of quarantine, but allow me to explain. Instead of running out every time I need something, I organize my day instead. For example, all my classes are in the mornings and early afternoons. I usually go to work right after or before that. For the odd hour I have between classes and work, I save it for meals or walks around campus. By doing this, I guarantee that between classes when I have to wear my mask, I am getting little breaks from it. Long days are unavoidable, and sometimes I’m stuck wearing my mask all day. However, then I make it a point to schedule days where I can spend hours in my suite or even in my single room without a mask. Sometimes it’s the little things; when I have an hour in my room, just relaxing and listening to music while not wearing a mask, this is the hour that helps me make it through the rest of the week.

Resources for Anxiety and Panic Disorders:

https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/mental-health-resources/anxiety

https://www.wysa.io/ (a counseling app)

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/affordable-therapy#summary

Research specifically on how the pandemic has affected mental health:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/27/us/social-anxiety-pandemic.html

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/anxiety-surged-during-pandemic-particularly-among-women-study-2021-10-08/

I'm a part time librarian, part time yoga teacher and a full time reader. I never miss an opportunity to listen to audiobooks on a car ride, or to read ebooks during breaks in my classes. I currently attend Susquehanna University where my major is creative writing. You can find more of my writing on www.MuggleNet.com
Similar Reads👯‍♀️