If things have not changed since writing this article, this month will see further relaxation of the ‘social distancing’ rules. I for one will be glad to be able to socialise freely, to be close to friends and wider family and not need to think about social distancing, hand sanitisers and elbow bumps. I am also looking forward to not getting to the shops and discovering my mask is still on the side at home; I am looking forward to ditching the mask.
There has been debate during the last year about the relative value of masks giving protection versus the issues they cause with communication and identity. I tend to see them as a necessary annoyance recognising the problems they cause as well. Even before distancing rules are further relaxed can I encourage you to take off your lockdown masks. Hear me correctly here, I am not inciting a mass rebellion against government guidance nor am I referring to cloth or paper masks we use to go shopping.
Over the last fifteen months, life for many of us has been disrupted. We have all had to become accustomed to not doing things we once thought of as normal, everyday activities. Few people in the country are not affected in some way and many people will have donned one of the following masks to protect themselves. The ‘I’m OK mask’; the ‘I’m coping’ mask; the ‘I’m financially stable’ mask; the ‘I’m happy mask’, the ‘I like it on my own’ mask and the list goes on.
Can I encourage you to ditch the masks and be kind to yourself? Don’t feel bad if you have found it hard, or your life circumstances have changed in a way you can’t control. Don’t be concerned that you are fearful of reintegrating as social distancing is removed. You are allowed to take things at your own pace, to ease yourself back into things or even to not restart something either for a while or at all. But please ditch the masks.
Emotional masks allow us to hide but like cloth masks, they get in the way of communication. If you are struggling, please ditch the mask and try to speak to someone you trust about how you are feeling, ask them to help you get through this. Too personal? Ditch the masks and speak to someone anonymously, there are a range of places and phone lines to start to get help, the Churches, the GP or Assist 01522 370164 can help point you to a someone or an organisation who will listen. It really is time to ditch the masks. So that we can be who we really are and so we can help each other as we return to some form of normality.