Where do you stand on the mask question? I have been asked by patients about my thoughts on whether or not to wear a mask and it feels like the time for a quick blog post on the topic. It seems like there are a lot of pros and cons, so I’ll give three reasons why I wear a mask and three perspectives on why it could be actually rather cool to wear one. Each section will be followed by questions for you that, ideally, will provoke thought on the topic. Up to you, of course, but I think this is all worth considering.
~~~ Three Reasons To Just Go For It ~~~
I). I wear my mask to protect others. It’s that simple. When I wear a mask it restricts any particles that come out of my mouth and nose. If I am asymptomatic and at the grocery store, you benefit if I am wearing a mask. There are persuasive articles on the topic that you can find just about anywhere. Take a look at this clear discussion of the difference between ingress and egress (in other words, what comes in vs. what goes out). Bottom line, they argue, and I quote: “My mask protects you; your mask protects me.” The good people at the Cleveland Clinic agree, as you can see here. It’s not that tough. If you believe that wearing a mask helps you to avoid sharing your droplets with the world (and I do) then it makes sense to wear one.
Questions for you: Who do you want to protect? Where do you go and who is at those places?
Bonus question for my fellow Austinites (though it’s good for any place with a robust allergy season): I tend to sneeze during allergy season. If we are both at Whole Foods and I let fly with a short series of nice, juicy Austin allergy sneezes, what would you prefer? That I am masked or unmasked?
2). I wear it to help normalize the act of wearing a mask. As an acupuncturist, I feel that it is part of my job–a duty, in fact–to model healthy practices. If I wear a mask when I am in public I show others that mask-wearing is something that people are doing. I may be the only one with a mask, but I’m planting a seed. I think that we all need to get used to wearing a mask and seeing others wearing masks. There’s no time like the present to get on board with this mentality. In addition, wearing a mask is fairly common for Asian and Asian American people to do at this point; given the rise in racism against Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Island persons at this time, I feel that it is the right thing to do when I, too, normalize the mask as a gesture of intercultural solidarity.
Questions for you: What do you think when you see someone in public wearing a mask? Does it make you angry? Or do you feel a sense of solidarity? In what way does seeing others wearing masks affect your habits?
3). I wear it as a gesture of solidarity. I have patients with chronic illnesses; in fact, one of my specialty areas is Ehlers Danlos syndromes support. This rare disease tends to bring along with it a host of other issues. Working with my treasured EDS patients has brought me into contact with other rare and chronic illness groups (one of my favorite people on twitter can be found at A Chronic Voice, here). These are populations that ostensibly have more to fear from COVID19. As a healthcare practitioner, with or without my EDS patients, I am also very aware of disparities in wellness. Let’s face it, COVID19 is hurting some communities harder than others (see here for a discussion of the way economic status and ethnicity affect one’s chances with this virus). In my estimation, not wearing a mask signals blithe ignorance. When I wear my mask, I am showing that I respect and remember vulnerable populations and that I also acknowledge the inequities of this pandemic. In addition, I’m a small business and I have quite a few friends who are also entrepreneurs. We all want to open our businesses and get back to work. When I wear a mask, I am helping to get us back to opened businesses. It’s a small gesture, but it’s something.
Questions for you: Which reason resonates most with you and why? Do you know and care for someone with a chronic illness or have a vulnerable loved one? Do you have a sense of social justice? Or do you want to see your favorite local businesses open once again? How can you harness these reasons and use them to get yourself in the habit of wearing a mask, and can you speak to your friends and family about this subject?
Numbers one, two, and three add up to one thing: Love thy neighbor…wear a mask.
~~~ On Being Fabulous (Or Something Similar) ~~~
1). You, too, can be cool like Austin’s own Evil MoPac if you wear a mask. (Have you seen this twitter account?) Let’s face it, MoPac is an Austin icon and the bane of all of our existences here in this fair city. If you don’t want to listen to me, your very favorite former Spanish professor and current ray of acupuncture sunshine, then listen to Austin’s very own most bestest and vicious freeway and get inspired.
Questions for you: How can you find some humor in this situation? Can you find anyone or anything that makes you able to lighten up just a little and put on that mask?
2). Mascara and eyeliner and other fashionable displays. Yes, mascara and eyeliner and fashion. I’m usually lazy about eye makeup in general, but with a mask on my face, I need to do something to play up what’s visible. I’ve started wearing more mascara and practicing my eyeliner skills. And I tried false eyelashes once and was so appalled that I will NEVER do that again, but I do know some excellent lash artists and I’ve seen how pretty lashes can be if done right. If you’ve ever wanted to try lashes, once things open up is a great time to do it. Or get your eyebrows shaped. Your mileage may vary, but however you choose to dress your face when half of it is covered… do it with flair, whatever that means to you.
Questions for you: Do you like makeup? If you don’t, is there anything else fun you can do with your eyes to play them up? What about picking your outfits to complement your mask? If you have beautiful dark eyes, for instance, what about a lovely gray mask? Or a blue one if you have blue eyes? You don’t have to be female to want to look nice (and if you are female, you don’t have to love makeup). But you can have fun if you want to, right? No sense in not being fashionable, whether or not you wear make-up. You could always look into finding clever masks that make a fashion statement.
3). Facial rejuvenation acupuncture. It doesn’t matter what your gender is…everyone can do with some facial rejuvenation acupuncture. It is great for your forehead lines and even better for your mood and emotional wellbeing. Take a look at this blog post I wrote while still in my program (here). In it, I wrote about how I found that smoothing frown lines on patients in student clinic helped them to feel calmer and happier. I did some research and found that there were studies at UT Austin on this very subject. Long story short? If you have been virtuously wearing a mask then you deserve to treat yourself with facial rejuvenation treatments (and if you don’t like the thought of needles, you can experience the wonder with no needles at all, as you can see here). It’s pretty common for acupuncturists to offer this service, so do not despair if you are not in Austin. (Oh, and you know I have a blog post for that, right? Sure enough, if you want to know how to find the best acupuncturist for what you want to accomplish, go right here and find out).
Questions for you: What can you do to reward yourself for wearing a mask? It is a bit of a shift to wear one and you may not be entirely happy about it. You deserve a treat, I think. So what can you do to thank yourself for wearing a mask?
~~~ In Conclusion ~~~
I think for some people, wearing a mask means that they are admitting that this pandemic is not going to end quickly. For others, it’s easier to get angry at the thought of wearing a mask than it is to face fears about what is happening to our cultures and our communities. There are a lot of reactions to the idea of wearing a mask. I understand that. But it’s such a simple thing to do and it can help. It’s a drop in the bucket, but the only way to start that thousand mile journey is by taking the first step. I believe that things will get better. I am confident that we as a world community will ultimately overcome this challenge. We can do it and we will.
One step at a time, and one small gesture of solidarity at a time. Love thy neighbor, please. And do it with good will, and flair. Be fabulous. Be cool. Just do it.
Wear a mask.
Paula Bruno, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, an AOBTA-CP traditional Chinese bodywork therapist, and a wellness educator. She maintains an active and growing practice at her Austin, TX offices. Dr. Bruno is also available for distance appointments for wellness consultation or coaching.
In her first career, she was a Spanish professor.
Dr. Bruno’s specialties as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner include: • Musculoskeletal health (acute or chronic pain relief; Ehlers Danlos syndrome & hypermobility support) • Digestive support, gut health, and weight loss • Aesthetic treatment, including scar revision • Men’s health • General preventative care and immune support for all persons.
When you are ready to discover what traditional medicine plus a vibrant and engaged approach to holistic health can do for you, either contact Dr. Bruno or book an appointment online.
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Note: Material on this web site site is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease, illness, or ailment. A TCM practitioner in Texas identifies syndrome patterns but does not diagnose illness. Material on this web site does not purport to identify syndrome patterns.