This Tuesday, April 19, it is approved in the Congress of Deputies from Spain the end of the compulsory wearing of the mask indoors. Therefore, from tomorrow, April 20, you will only be fined for not wearing it in health centres, nursing homes and public transport. The measure is not exempt from controversial, because many people believe that it is only due to political causes and lacks scientific support. The population is divided on this and there are those who fear abandoning it. But will this have consequences at the level of psychological?
It has been said a lot that for children and teenagers it will be traumatic leave the mask, because they wore it in a period of their life subject to many changes and now they fear show your whole face. We also talk about anxiety and stress by social pressure between opposing groups. In other words, those who will continue to wear it fear criticism from those who do not wear it. And those who go back to showing themselves from the front in almost all circumstances are sure to be criticized by those who maintain the mask inside.
Let’s not forget what’s coming now is not a prohibition, but a withdrawal of the obligation. It will no longer be mandatory to wear the mask indoors, but anyone who wishes can continue to do so. In fact, it is still recommended in many areas. Therefore, there will be many different cases and it is clear that some may experience some psychological discomfort. But will this be the norm or the exception?
Farewell to the mask inside
The indoor mask will only be compulsory in Spain in health centers, retirement homes and public transport. However, the recommendation it remains in many other areas, especially in places with poor ventilation or with large crowds of people. Even outdoors, it is recommended in crowded places, as has happened recently during Holy Week processions. As well anyone with symptoms is recommended to use it. But many people have already assured that they would not take it under any circumstances, despite the recommendations.
So there are a lot of expectations and uncertainty in regards to. And when there is uncertainty, there can be anxiety. But how is all this going to affect us mentally?
To know, in hypertextual we contacted the psychologist, university professor and scientific communicator Ramon Nogueras, who with his conversation calls for calm in this regard. And it is that, to begin with, it does not even seem that for teenagers it will be so traumatic to show their faces again. “There’s no type of investigation or anything reliable about it,” he says. “It’s an opinion purely observational”.
But what about the bigger ones? It’s clear that after two years of wearing a mask indoors, suddenly seeing people not wearing one can be shocking to some people. However, Nogueras thinks it will be for a short time and that cases who develop some type of anxiety they won’t be the majority. “Yes, it can happen, because a very negative message has been passed on in the media, in my opinion”, assures the psychologist. “But I think the cases of anxiety they will be infrequent and that there would be nothing to say about the syndromes at all”.
Remember that after confinement we spoke of cabin syndrome to designate people who might be afraid to leave their homes after so long spent in it. But a syndrome is much more than that, and psychologists were quick to deny such a thing. This time, according to Nogueras, something similar will happen.
“All changes and adaptations can potentially produce anxiety or discomfort, like when we start a new job, for example. It should be equated with any other change. We had a very brutal change two years ago, now we are going to readapt to something which, on the other hand, is natural for everyone except for the very young who have known nothing else. Most of us already know what it’s like to live without a mask indoors, so adjusting must be a lot easier. If we also see that there is no meltdown, anxious people will gradually adapt.
Ramón Nogueras, psychologist, university professor and science communicator
What can we do if we are afraid?
Each individual has their situation. There may be people who are vulnerable or who live with someone who is. Or someone may just feel that the time is not yet right to remove the mask inside. For this reason, the first thing we must all keep in mind, whether we continue to wear it or not, is that it must respect those who decide otherwise. We’re at a point where both options are legally acceptable, whether we like it or not.
However, some people may be afraid of what they will say or feel under certain social pressure. However, for Nogueras, this feeling will be very short-lived, because over time, both will see that most people will not notice them and they can continue with their decision calmly.
Now, if caution, more than logical and acceptable, turns into anxiety, it is important to try adapt slowly. “Exposure to the situation that generates anxiety should be a gradual and progressive process“, recalls Nogueras. “I recommend anyone anxious to get off the mask to start small.” Before leaving the mask indoors, it may be advisable to start outdoors. “Perhaps they could leave it outside then, when they are comfortable, on a terrace with more people. Gradually, as we see that nothing is happening, this anxiety subsides.
In short, at no time will it be compulsory to go inside without a mask. Even many scientists and experts have already said that they will continue to use it for a while. Everyone can do what they want and whoever considers that for one reason or another he must continue to wear it does not have to pay attention to what others are doing. Like others, they shouldn’t criticize anyone’s decision either.
However, if we see that the caution becomes fearful and anxiety prevents us from carrying out any activity, it would be advisable to do that progressive exposure that Nogueras talks about. Or even go see a psychologist if these feelings become very extreme. The trick is to walk hand in hand with caution, but not get carried away by fear. This is the only thing we have to keep in mind. As citizens, once the law is enacted, we own all decisions that adhere to it.