Tips for survivors who might find wearing a mask challenging: Tips and tricks during COVID-19

October 19, 2020 , written by Polly Dang

Tips for survivors who might find wearing a mask challenging: Tips and tricks during COVID-19. 

We are increasingly being asked to wear masks in public spaces, like while on campus and when riding the bus. For some survivors, this can be challenging as it may be triggering and bring up traumatic memories of past experiences. Masks can also feel claustrophobic and remind us of what it feels like to have a panic attack or losing control of our breath. Here are a few tips for survivors and any of us who find wearing masks challenging:

1.    Find the right face covering.

  • Start with wearing a 100% cotton mask.

  • Medical masks with elastic ear loops can be a great option if you can’t find a mask that fits your face or use a mask with adjustable straps.

  • If elastic ear loops hurt your ears, you can use a barrette or paper clip to connect the ear loops behind your head. 

2.    Practice wearing your mask at home or in a safe(r) environment.

  • Take time to get used to ways you can wear your mask or the feeling of having the mask on your face.

3.    Get creative!

  • Wear a scarf or bandana as another option to cover your face.

  • Decorate your mask and make it more personal.

  • Make your own mask, if you are able to sew. 

4.    Make your mask smell lovely.

  • Use a pillow spray (with your favourite smell) and spray it on your fabric mask 20 mins before you start to wear it.

  • Add herbs, flowers, or sprigs into the filter pouch of your mask (please make sure you change them regularly and ensure you have a free flow of air).

5.    Ask for support.

  • The SVSPO is here for you. Reach out by calling us at 778-782-7233 or by emailing sv-support@sfu.ca.

6.    Keep grounding techniques in mind.

  • If you are overwhelmed while wearing a mask in public, take a moment to ground yourself. Some techniques include mindful breathing, thinking of positive statements or any other tactics you use to help you connect to the present and calm you down. To learn more grounding techniques, download You Matter, the SVSPO’s self-care guide. 


Benson, J. (2020, August 03). 9 Tips On What To Do If Face Masks Trigger Old Trauma. Retrieved October 8, 2020, from https://www.wsfm.com.au/lifestyle/9-tips-on-what-to-do-if-face-masks-trigger-old-trauma/

Sexual Assault Centre of Brant. (2020, August 10). Tips for Survivors Who Find Wearing Masks Challenging. Retrieved October 5, 2020, from https://geekxgirls.com/article.php?ID=13539