Mindful Self-Analysis: What Wearing a Mask Tells You About Your Health?

Mindful Self-Analysis: What Wearing a Mask Tells You About Your Health?

December 04, 2020

Everyone would agree that life is not the same as it used to be before the COVID-19 outbreak. From the way we dress to the way we communicate and even commute, the pandemic has touched and influenced every aspect of life, and one of the most evident changes is the prevalence of face masks.

While previously masks were mainly reserved for medical personnel, they have become a part of our daily attire today. It is now not only customary but mandatory to wear a mask in most public places. But did you know that apart from preventing the spread of COVID-19, wearing a mask can also help you get a good idea about your general health and hygiene?

Read on to learn about the unique way Ayurveda looks at face masks and how they can help us understand our health and wellbeing through mindfulness.

How to do Mindful Self-Analysis While Wearing a Mask

It is easy to engage in mindful self-analysis while wearing a mask. However, it will give you some astounding insights about your overall health, hygiene, and wellness.

Let's take a look at how to practice self-analysis, and what you can learn about your health & wellness by observing your breath while wearing a mask.

Step 1 – Observe Your Breath Odor

Ayurvedic knowledge teaches us to create self-awareness through self-observation. It allows us to notice the smell of the breath instantly. Wearing a mask helps in this regard by making us more observant and aware of our breath.

As soon as you put on your mask and speak, you will notice your mouth smell, it may or may not be offensive. Regardless, it is indicative of your oral hygiene and health.

Breath odor is natural and is not always offensive. However, if you notice a foul or offensive breath, it may provide insights about your general health and wellness. Offensive or highly noticeable breath odor is caused by biomes discussed below.

Oral Biome

The oral cavity, meaning the tongue, the mucous membrane that lines the mouth, can hold a large colony of bacteria known as the oral microbiome. These oral biomes can lead to a strong or offensive smell.

When the mouth is not cleaned properly, bacteria break down the food particles on the tongue, taste buds, the gums, and the cheeks, causing the offensive smell. Bad breath caused by oral biomes indicates poor oral hygiene. However, the good news is that the mouth odor caused by oral biome is relatively easy to manage.

Gut Biome

The gut biome exists because of undigested food in the gut, which causes a foul odor. If the Agni or the body's metabolic ability is not strong, healthy, or normal, the body may not break down the food we eat properly. This affects the process of digesting, absorbing, or even excreting. In either case, it aggravates the gut biome, leading to bad mouth odor.

Step 2 – Observe the Temperature of Your Breath

You can take mindful self-analysis to the next step by observing the temperature of your breath. Breath temperature can also be an indicator of health. Studies show a relationship between the temperature of the exhaled air, blood circulation in the lungs, and conditions like asthma or bronchitis that restrict the airflow to the chest.

If the breath is really hot, it means the blood circulation to the lungs has increased, showing that there is inflammation in the lung tissue. The higher the temperature, the higher the inflammation in the lungs. On the other hand, if the temperature is lower than usual, it means you do not maintain enough heat inside the body.

Ayurveda associates the breath temperature with Pitta dosha, which is responsible for maintaining body temperature, circulation, digestion, and metabolism. This means when there is a pitta imbalance in the body, you will notice an increase in the breath temperature indicative of the lung tissue's overall health.

Three people wearing masks

Step 3 – Observe Your Skin

Take a minute to observe your skin when you wear your mask and then again when you take it off. Any changes in the skin condition can tell you about your inner health. Look for the following signs in the face and lip area.

Redness – Indicates Pitta Imbalance

If you notice redness, you may be experiencing Pitta aggravation in your body. Pitta is like heat or fire quality that exists and controls every part of the body. So, when the Pitta biosystem dominates the body, redness is seen around the face.

Dryness – Indicates Vata Imbalance

If on removing the mask, you notice that your lips are peeling or the nasal passage is dry, you have the Vata biosystem or Vata Dosha dominating the entire body. Dehydration and low consumption of good fats can also cause dry breath, allowing the Vata energy to take over. In Ayurveda, insufficient sleep could also aggravate the Vata dosha, so activities that provide warmth to the body are meaningful.

Swelling – Indicates Kapha Imbalance

If you feel like your lips are swollen, or nasal passages are swollen, or there is puffiness in the face or the lips while wearing the mask, then it is considered a Kapha imbalance. It is the water-based energy or biosystem that always stagnates things

Stickiness – Indicates the presence of Ama

If you remove the mask and notice that your lips are sticking to each other or the nasal passages are gooey, then from an Ayurvedic point of view, there is a possibility that the food you consume does not turn into nutrition. Instead, it transforms into metabolic waste known as Ama. Acne breakouts and small pimples on the eyelids that get formed indicate the presence of Ama in the gut or anywhere else in the body.

Step 4 – Observe Your Breathing

Do you struggle to breathe while wearing a mask? If you find yourself craving to breathe freely or gasping for air, it shows that the lungs are weak.

This happens when the lungs don't expand enough, or you never used your lungs to their full capacity. As a result, you will observe that you are constantly struggling to get a complete breath inside your lungs when you wear the mask.

You may have to work on your lungs and Prana to ensure optimal lung health. Prana is the life force that comes through the breath. Working on your Prana may help expand the lungs and increase lung capacity.

Step 5 – Observe Your Burp for Its Smell

A burp comes directly from your digestive system. Therefore, a smelly burp is another indication of digestion problems or slow metabolism. Observe your burp for its smell. If it is sour or accompanied by some liquid, it indicates that the digestion is somewhat compromised.

Tips to Improve Health and Wellbeing!

 A woman with bad breath

Now that you know how to do a mindful self-analysis to learn more about your health and body, let's take a look at what you can do with this information. Scroll down to read some tips that will help you improve your overall health & wellbeing, and get rid of offensive bad breath.

Manage Your Diet Based on the Mouth Odor

You need to be a keen observer to manage your food intake based on the smell of your mouth correctly. For example, if you put on your mask in the middle of the day and notice that the odor is particularly strong or offensive, it means that the food you ate earlier in the day was not digested properly.

Based on this information, it is best to eat something light in the latter part of the day. If you start noticing a more offensive smell in your breath by 3:30 to 4:00 pm, then switch to a lighter or soupy diet at the end of the day. Moreover, do not top it off with a very heavy- cheesy or meaty meal as that would cause more digestive sluggishness.

Use Simple Spices from Your Pantry to Improve Digestion

If the bad breath is caused by improper or slow digestion or even irregular bowel movement, you can improve the situation by focusing on your gut health and digestion. The good news is that you can use simple things to improve digestion. For example, you can try ginger tea or add more good spices such as black pepper, turmeric, and cumin in your diet to boost digestion.

Drink Hot Water

Ayurveda stresses the importance of drinking hot water, particularly if your breath smells. Drink Hot water if your breath smells bad because it is the key to digest and assimilate the food. You can start your day with a cup of hot water or take hot water with your meals.

Cut Down Portion of Meals

Anything that helps to improve your digestion is a viable option if you are experiencing bad breath. One way to improve mouth odor is to cut down your meals or cut down the quantity of the meals by taking a super salad. It will allow for speedy and proper digestion.

Try Natural Mouth Fresheners

If the mouth odor is caused by oral biome, the first and best line of defense is to improve your oral hygiene. In the meantime, you can also use natural mouth fresheners to keep your breath smelling fresh. Ingredients like cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon are good mouth fresheners and can be chewed upon to get rid of the bad smell or the bacterial action that might be happening in the mouth.

Improve Bowel Movement

You can improve improper bowel movement by increasing the fiber content in your food, eating plenty of vegetables, cutting down on processed foods and processed dairy products such as milk and cheese. These foods clog the gut, leading to improper evacuation from the bowel, which, in turn, causes bad breath.

There are some great formulas in Ayurveda, like Triphala or Avipattikar powder, that can be used to move the bowel. These well-known formulas work well for the gut and you can take them with hot water for a good bowel movement.

Try Breathing Exercises and Workout

If you notice that the breath temperature is higher, you can make sure that the lungs are clear from any kind of inflammation by practicing breathing exercises regularly. Working out will also help with the regulation of body temperature.

Mind the Environment

Sometimes, our environment can impact the breath temperature. For example, a sudden change in environment temperatures – like moving out from an air conditioning to a hotter climate and back can irritate the lungs. Exposure to dust particles or pollutants can also cause the constriction of the lung passages or air passages and cause hot breath. Avoiding certain things, like drinking really cold water as it can also help.

Bring up the Breath Temperature When Its Too Low

The temperature indicates our lung health. So, if our lungs are healthy, our breath should be at normal temperature. However, if it is too cold, you can remedy the situation by taking hot drinks such as ginger-turmeric tea, chicken or vegetable soups, etc.

Remedy Skin Conditions

As discussed above, you may notice several signs and symptoms on the skin in the face and mouth area when you take off the mask. Here are some tips to help deal with them.

  • If you notice redness or moisture on the lips or experience acne breakouts, engage in Pitta-reducing activities- like avoiding spicy or oily foods, or foods with vinegar, or pickled foods. It will help eliminate redness.
  • If you find your breath or lips are excessively dry, you can remedy that by consuming good fats, staying hydrated, and applying coconut oil to the lips and the nasal passages.
  • If you notice your lips are swollen, or there’s puffiness in the face then avoid things that stagnate. For example, avoid eating too many bananas or drinking a banana milkshake, etc., as it brings in more fluid stagnation in the body.
  • If using the mask results in sticky lips, sip on hot tea or water to improve the indigestion phenomenon.

Digest Ama

Ama is the metabolic toxin produced by undigested food. It can cause acne breakouts, stickiness in the lips, lungs, and nasal passages. Semi-fasting or intermittent fasting for a day is an excellent way to reduce or digest Ama. Drinking hot water can also help.

If you want to skip the water, you can use ginger and spices like coriander-cumin-fennel-turmeric to make a tea called CCFT Tea. It will help increase Agni and digest Ama in the body.

Remedy Weakness of Lungs

If you struggle to breathe while wearing a mask, you may need some chest expansion exercises or traditional yogic breathing exercises called Pranayama. These need to be taught by a yogic teacher or a therapist.

The Bottom Line

The consistent observations while wearing a mask will help us learn about our health ailments, which can then be controlled, regulated, and improved through ayurvedic aid, assistance, and incorporating the Ayurvedic principles discussed above in one’s everyday life.

All in all, mindful self-analysis while wearing a mask can help improve gut health, enhance oral hygiene, and boost wellness. All one has to do is be observant and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

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