Have you noticed feeling more tired after wearing a mask? This happens because breathing through a mask is a workout. You are using your smallest of breathing muscles to do a really big job — combined with mouth breathing, you are using a lot of energy to breathe.
When wearing a mask, most of us breathe with our upper chest muscles and with our mouth open. This is a very inefficient way of breathing that can also cause increased stress and anxiety.
Masking has become an essential part of our days when we go outside our homes. Julie Christiansen, physical therapy assistant at Children’s Minnesota, provides you with some tips to reduce your breathing strain while wearing a mask.
Feel how you breathe
While wearing a mask, take a moment to feel how you breathe. Ask yourself these questions: Does your belly move or does your upper chest move? Are you breathing with your nose or mouth?
Place your hands on your stomach or lower rib cage, slowly take a breath through your nose and feel your belly and rib cage push outward and exhale though your mouth.
Practice this throughout the day and with practice you may start to become a more efficient breather with a mask on. You are actively retraining your breathing muscles.
Take time to relax your upper chest and shoulders. Helpful actions include: shoulder shrugs, arm circles, arm stretches, torso twists and side-to-side bending, if your body allows these movement comfortably without pain.
Take breathing breaks
In a safe space, take your mask off and take two or three breaths, being sure to use your belly. Wearing a mask often can cause you to breathe different even when your mask is off. Mindfulness of breathing can help you retrain your breathing to be more efficient all the time.
Drink plenty of fluids
The nose is designed to capture moisture and those who breathe through an open mouth can experience moisture loss. When you lose moisture, you become dehydrated which leads to increased fatigue.
Remember this: Moisture loss = dehydration = increased fatigue.
Face mask tips
If you’re looking for more tips on mask-wearing, see our: How to make face masks more comfortable for kids article. We give you tips for talking to your kids about wearing a mask and five mask hacks!