the prairie doc

Take a moment to breathe


The act of breathing is essential to life and can be done with or without thinking about it. You can control your breath and vary it, but eventually air must come in, and air must go out. 

The breath of life and breathing exercises are an important aspect of many religions. In the book of Genesis, when God created man, he formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Several Eastern religions use controlled breathing in meditation and prayer, helping in the processes of consciousness, mindfulness and visualization. 

In this time of increased stress and anxiety over money, wars and numerous other matters, I encourage us all to take time to focus on our breathing. 

One of the simplest ways to combat stress and anxiety is to breathe. It does not cost any money and does not have to take much time. However, deep breathing can decrease your stress, help you feel calmer, reduce pain, reduce your blood pressure, help you focus and improve digestion. It can also increase your energy and improve your immunity. 

How do you do it? Easy! Just do it. Make sure you are somewhere safe and close your eyes. Breathe in gently through your nose, taking about four to five seconds, and fill your belly and chest. Perhaps, hold it for another couple seconds. Then release it through your open mouth over five seconds or more, whatever is comfortable. Repeat this at least five times.

When I have patients who have anxiety or panic attacks, I often take a little time to practice this with them. Every time, I feel calmer myself, and I hope they find it calming as well. 

This week, our television program “On Call with the Prairie Doc®” is celebrating its 20th season of providing truthful, tested and timely medical information. We are taking time to breathe in and reflect on our past, feeling grateful for our founders, the late Dr. Richard Holm and his wife Joanie, and celebrating the contributions of everyone on our team.

Thank you, our readers, for taking the time to read our columns through the years, and I hope there are many more to come. Now, please take a moment to do some deep breathing. First you breathe in, then breathe out. 

Andrew Ellsworth, M.D. is part of The Prairie Doc® team of physicians and currently practices family medicine in Brookings, South Dakota. Follow The Prairie Doc® at and on Facebook featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc® a medical Q&A show celebrating its twentieth season of truthful, tested, and timely medical information, broadcast on SDPB and streaming live on Facebook most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.


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