Why your brain says you can’t breathe in a mask:

Masks from a “Buteyko” perspective:

We understand that many people are finding compulsory mask wearing in public difficult.
We understand that this is a natural reaction which is caused by slightly reduced airflow. This is not easy for some people.
We understand that if you had a previous trauma, accident, or negative experience where your mouth was covered or you couldn’t breathe, then any airflow restriction often quickly activates stress responses when this is repeated.
We understand the feelings of defensive aggression and we understand the hostility. The body is doing all it can to not have the experience repeated. You may not even have an awareness of your memory being triggered, because its part of the automatic responses of the brain and spinal cord.
All you experience is the sensation of feeling trapped, feeling breathless and feeling afraid, and some of us experience the agitation too – many of us aren’t truly aware why it is happening – just that it happens when we wear a mask.
We understand that you may make the connection that the mask is “bad” because it “activates” symptoms or feelings of despair.
But we also know it’s not the mask’s fault, and feel that it’s a bit like those parents who tell their kids that the table they just bumped into is “naughty” for being “in the way.”

We understand that because stress, subconscious memory of fear and trauma and breathing are all connected in the brain, this is how “negative behaviour” is often created.
Behaviour can also be set pattern of responses.
Breathing is part of those patterns, and also why attention to breathing is vital for recovery from any traumatic experience.
The cascade of stress responses to a “trigger” (stressor) include hyperventilation (over breathing – bigger gasps of air – especially when speaking) which, when continued, can include fainting.
However, just months before Covid, we were assisting asthmatics whose doctors had told them to wear a mask to reduce pollen inhalation and their issue was they were afraid to take the mask off. πŸ™‚
Now we are assisting the same diagnosis group of clients whose doctors have (apparently) said mask wearing may be detrimental – yet they are mandated to wear one for occupational reasons πŸ™‚
There are many sides to this story. πŸ™‚ ❀

The “trick” to establishing successful mask wearing breathing behaviour is to get used to reduced airflow in a relaxed way.
Relaxed means passive – NOT active. ie. Not under load / stress. πŸ˜‰
In this way; new breathing behaviour is established in a positive way that doesn’t cause further reactions. (The thing you are trying to change only changes in response to how much Attention you give it.)
In the recent past; Buteyko Educators would advise using a tiny, narrow piece of tape covering the mouth from nose to chin, while being “non-active” at home – like when reading or working at the computer – to create an awareness of reduced airflow in a relaxed setting.
Before covid we were subjected to torrents of newspaper articles declaring this was a “dangerous” practice. πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›
In reality, it’s less restrictive than a mask, but it does encourage nasal breathing, which is the human norm. ❀
Mask wearing presents a new set of challenges for those with what we Buteyko Educators once called “hidden hyperventilation”. (This is a form of breathing reactivity – driven by subconscious triggering of trauma and fear – as opposed to functional breathing adaptation.)
For most of us, reducing airflow *seems* unnatural. but for most of us living a “western Lifestyle”, we’ve also been accustomed to over breathing as a normal setting. (When you consume more energy than you can use and become “over weight” – you still feel hungry when you start a more balanced eating plan / diet. Eating more than you need is also a behaviour issue as well as a calorific intake issue, so if you don’t address what creates the drive to eat more, you are more likely to revert back to previous behaviour patterns. Addiction works similar ways…)

Stress and breathing are connected. The more you breathe in a stressed way – the more stressed you become.
So, the real question here should be about how to stop the cycle – and how to successfully change your breathing responses to masking up; so that instead of melting and fainting; you feel like a superhero while wearing one. πŸ¦Έβ€β™€οΈ
STEP ONE: You can start by simply trying to breathe nasally for a few minutes each day. If you breathe through your nose, your body will begin to naturally adjust to reduced airflow.
STEP TWO: You can try using a tiny piece of 3mm micropore / paper / surgical tape when not active to become accustomed to the “style” of breathing required to wear a mask.
STEP THREE: Be kind to yourself. ❀
No one learns a new behaviour in a minute. The modern world is so “success driven” it’s easy to forget that creating new behaviour successfully is also a process. Take some time to make the adaptation without stress and fear being the drivers of the changes you need to make – and you will find they come far more easily ❀
Learning how to overcome hyperventilation stress responses to slightly reduced airflow is actually good for us in the long term because it can help us to remain calmer and also be more responsive to “real” stressors. Provided we switch to nasal breathing, that is. πŸ˜‰ Nasal breathing is also better for us because it filters germs and dust better before these particles reach the lungs. So nasal breathing improves immune function and reduces immune responses ❀
Breathing well while breathing less is a skill and it makes sense to learn this skill right now.
#Buteyko #masks #ButeykoMask #ButeykoSouthAfrica

copyright: M.Mitchell ButeykoSA. 2020


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