Long COVID Breathlessness
– By Aoife Rafter
I was doing so well, isolating and laying low the past 2 years when COVID cases spiked in my local area. I was the only one out of my family and friend who hadn’t contracted the virus, despite being a close contact 3 times!
But then it got me, just last month as I attended my friend’s wedding in Spain, I landed home jet-lagged, exhausted, hungover, and COVID-ridden!
Luckily I had survived the worst of it before I came up positive on a test, and didn’t need any medical interventions from my Cystic Fibrosis team.
However, it’s been 5 weeks now and I’m still not quite back to myself. My energy is low and I’m feeling breathless after coming up my stairs. My sinuses are also pretty congested the past 5 weeks too.
So as I’ve now swallowed my pride in knowing I actually don’t have some superpower that made me invincible to COVID, I’ve been working on getting my stamina back. I started with some light yoga practices at home from YouTube, I particularly love ‘Yoga With Adrienne’. I did my first PT session last week since having COVID too. We took it easy on the cardio side of things and just did some muscle-building/toning exercises. But I want and I need to get back to the cardio.. Actually, wait, I don’t want to, I just need to! -Ew, cardio!!
So in order to get back to the unpleasant but very necessary cardio, I’ve been working on a daily breathing technique that helps to increase lung function and build the strength of the diaphragm. As I am now a qualified Breathwork coach, I realise the importance of these practices for both my body and my mind! Here’s one you can try for 10 minutes to improve your respiratory health.
- Find a comfortable, quiet spot to practice this 10 min exercise. You may sit or lie down.
- Take a few moments to settle in and bring your awareness to your breath. Where are you feeling tight?
- Take some slow deep inhales and on your exhales, sigh out all that tightness and tension.
- Take a rest now, returning to your normal breathing pattern.
- Then on this next inhale, inhale for 3 seconds and hold your breath for 3 seconds. Then exhale for 3 seconds.
- Hold your breath again for 3 seconds, before inhaling again slowly and controlled for 3 seconds.
- Hold your breath again at the top of your inhale for 3 seconds. Exhale slowy again for 3 seconds, and hold the breath again for 3 seconds. Repeat this again one more time.
- Then take a deep breath in and just let go of the exhale, allowing your breath to return to its normal pattern.
- As we get ready to go again, we imagine this next inhale is dragging the energy up through our body. Breathe in here for 3 seconds as you visualise this.
- As you hold your breath for 3 seconds here, feel your energy build.
- Exhale again for 3 seconds, releasing any tension in your face, neck and shoulders.
- Inhale again for 3, dragging the energy up through your body. Hold the energy for another 3 seconds and slowly exhale for 3, letting your muscles soften as you do so.
- Repeat until you have completed 20 cycles in total.
- As you rest and allow your breath to return to it’s normal breathing pattern, allow your body to sink into the floor and pay attention to the sensations in your body.
- Take a few moments here before returning to the rest of your day.
You can repeat this exercise every day to help increase your energy, patience and lung function!