It’s not uncommon for those of us with chronic respiratory, sleep or nervous conditions to have a hard time getting over a cold or flu.
When we first get it, we accept feeling miserable. Then, as the acute symptoms start to lift, we feel like ourselves again. Yay! But often, that exuberant feeling is only temporary as fatigue, a half-stuffy nose and a general sense of malaise become the new norm for a month or longer.
We’re more or less OK, but…
It can take weeks or months to get back to our exercise routine, especially coached workouts where we’re expected to push ourselves and someone else is paying attention!
We back out of evening plans. “Sorry,” we tell friends. “I’m not up to staying out late again yet.”
Projects seem more stressful than usual. “I’ll do the taxes next weekend.”
Multiple-errand days? Who’s got the energy!
If it feels like once you succumb to a cold, it lasts half a season, try these time-tested breathing tips to move through it more quickly.
- Tune in to the quality of your breathing. Most likely, it’s rough – loud, irregular and rapid. Try to slow it down and breathe gently so each breath is longer and slower, and a person sitting next to you wouldn’t be able to hear it. Imagine breathing like a sleeping healthy infant. Or take “light fairy sniffs” that best pick up the scent of a rose or a bouquet of wine.
- If your chest or belly is puffing in and out when you are sedentary or even moving slowly, you’re most likely breathing too strongly. That’s over-breathing and puts as much load on the body as over-eating!
- One way to increase the length of the breath cycle is to breathe with your nose into your diaphragm and back out through the nose again. Your nose takes longer to inhale and exhale than your mouth, which is a good thing. There’s an unproven but logical-sounding theory that our bodies are designed to only take a certain amount of breaths before they wear out. Don’t squander yours by taking them too quickly!
- If your nose is stuffy, practice breathing through it anyway while you’re inactive (sitting in a chair or standing still). Most likely there’s a pinprick of an opening for a wisp of air to move through. As you gently breathe through the nose, the opening typically expands. If that’s too difficult, try an anti-snoring aid like BreatheRite strips to expand the air passageway. If breathing through your nose is just impossible, that’s OK! Just concentrate on breathing small — less than you normally would — through your mouth.
- After you exercise, make sure your breathing calms back down and your pulse falls back to its resting rate before you move your attention to the next thing. Likewise, if you experience yourself getting worked up emotionally, slow and calm your breathing until you feel your body relax.
What most people haven’t learned about breathing well for good health, is that breathing gently can be more effective than breathing heavily in distributing Oxygen throughout our bodies.The reason lies in our biochemistry and the sensitive balance of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide in the bloodstream.
In line at the grocery store? Sitting through a boring meeting? Practice breathing activities that strengthen your respiratory resilience and no one will be the wiser — especially at those times when you’re not sick anymore but you don’t feel healthy either.