This Breathing Technique Helped J.K. Rowling Deal With Coronavirus Symptoms

As more and more news of celebrities and public figures coming forward about experiencing symptoms of or being diagnosed with COVID-19, the Internet has started to feel like an increasingly small neighborhood sharing advice and support for everything from hand hygiene to ways to make social distancing/self-quarantine time a bit more bearable. Among the celebrities sharing their own coronavirus pro-tips is author J.K. Rowling, who told her followers on Twitter that she’d been experiencing symptoms of the virus (which include fever, cough and shortness of breath) and found this medical professional-approved breathing technique to be helpful.

Rowling said that, though she hasn’t been tested, she was sent a video from Doctors at Queens Hospital in the UK and has found some relief to her symptoms. In the video, a doctor and nurse from the Partnership of East London Co-operatives (PELC), a non-profit health organization, walks viewers through some ways to make sure you’re continually getting good air while dealing with respiratory symptoms.

“Once you have an active infection you need to be getting a good amount of air into the base of your lungs,” the doctor says, before launching into advice from Director of Nursing Sue Elliott. “I want you guys to start doing this if you have the infection right from the beginning. If you want to do it before you have an infection, good idea.”

The doctor proceeds to walk us all through the technique and tries it out (noting that, with the deep breaths, even he felt “dizzy doing it.”):

  • Take five deep breaths in, each time holding the breath for five seconds.
  • On the sixth deep breath, take it in and do a big cough (covering your mouth, obviously)
  • Do two cycles of the above and the lay flat on your front (on a bed, ideally) taking slightly deeper “normal” breaths for the next 10 minutes.

“You’ve got to understand the majority of your lung is on your back not on your front,” he adds. “So by laying on your back your closing off more of the smaller airways and this is not good during the period of infection.” He notes that laying on your front is, as a rule, better than laying on your back — since closing off those airways ups your risk of getting a secondary pneumonia (which is when these symptoms can get a lot scarier, a lot faster.)

There’s obviously no magic way for all bodies (diverse and complicated as they are) to deal with symptoms of coronavirus, but knowing a few ways to be more mindful of your body and your breathing is a great step to feeling just a little bit more in control right now.

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