Masks have now become an item that we are all used to as part of the response to the global pandemic.
While I recall the first time I wore one, feeling very surreal walking along my local street realising this is now part of our lifestyle.
Having watched the movie Contagion with it’s stellar cast including Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Bryan Cranston to name but a few, at the cinemas many years ago and more recently The Protector on Netflix where they are trying to stop the release of a virus. It seems these screen themes are now our reality.
What has also been apparent is that it is not as easy to connect with people from behind a mask or is it? No longer are we able to see people’s facial expressions, smiles, or other ways we communicate and connect with people verbally and non verbally everyday in public.
While we have been able to take them off more in Victoria lately the rules just changed and now we have to wear them inside again. It may seem like some of that connection and communication is lost, but rather now we have to adapt to the situation and implement other ways to connect while we are wearing masks.
We all know the power of eye contact and while you may not want to lock eyes with every person you see, I know I am making more eye contact at the moment after learning about how it prepares our brains to be social.
The reason being is that eye contact is real time unconscious social interaction and is a key element that connects us during social communication. With a study published in eNeuro by a team of Japanese scientists showing the same areas of each persons brain are activated simultaneously during eye contact, preparing the social brain to empathise.
While we all manage our connections and communication’s differently at the moment from behind a mask. A quick gaze into the eyes of those you pass on your walks in the streets or in shops, can all go towards a better feeling of social connection, which is something we all need and is proven scientifically to enhance our well-being.
I think we have all come to understand more than ever throughout the pandemic and through periods of lockdown just how important social connection is.
Since the pandemic began we have all had to adapt to new ways to connect and communicate with each other and this is a way that can help create those connections from behind our masks.