Face Time, Mask Free
The other day I went to the grocery store without a mask for the first time. It was a BIG STEP, and it was remarkable! The best way I can describe it is that it was as if someone had suddenly turned the lights on.
I think at the start of the pandemic we were all scared and awkward. I remember going into a store for the first time wearing a mask and feeling uncomfortable for a lot of reasons. The last thing I wanted to do was make eye contact with anyone. There must have been a part of me that felt embarrassed and fearful about all of it.
As it became the new normal I might have started to make some eye contact, but not much. None of this guardedness was intentional, but it was very real. I can speak from a lot of experience because I never stopped going to the grocery store, hardware store or any other store necessary for life with a family of four, plus one dog and one gecko! I went out all the time so I can say for certain that when I shopped without a mask for the first time the difference was HUGE!
I found myself making lots of eye contact. There were many smiles offered and returned, and I just felt more present. The energy around me was lighter and I wasn’t in my head so much. Except when I realized that the lip-syncing I was doing to the store music was now on full display!
We underestimate those small moments with strangers and how they make us feel. Pat and I were at a store together just recently where masks are optional for vaccinated people. As we were talking in the checkout line, the gentleman behind us said to Pat, “You have a voiceover voice!” Pat responded that, yes, he had heard that before. Well, that led to the man telling us about his daughter who is in the business and how she did some work on the TV show Scrubs, and now does commercial work. We went back and forth with some stories and a few laughs. Once we said good night and walked away I said to Pat that that entire conversation never would have taken place if we all were masked.
These types of encounters are also good for us physically!
Now that my clients and I are vaccinated, the majority of my sessions are in-person and mask-free. Connecting in person, mask-free triggers all of our senses, releasing oxytocin. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that causes positive chemical reactions in the body and brain, eliciting an anti-inflammatory response. Oxytocin also has the ability to improve the body’s immune function, helping us fight off viruses and infections. Seeing each other on Zoom or with masks on can still give us a nice hit of dopamine. But being together, without the sensory limitations of being masked, engages ALL of our senses. Only then is the all-powerful oxytocin released too. Pretty amazing, right?
So YES, I am really enjoying seeing all of you again. To see your beautiful faces and your smiles and laughs just makes my heart happy. I consider you all my extended family and I feel much more comfortable when I get SEE you and be in your presence with all of our senses wide open.
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