To Breathe or Not to Breathe?

Photo of three people wearing face masks on a page next to a photo of a woman practicing deep breathing

When we’re stressed, one of the easiest ways to calm down is to take a deep breath. Yet what if the air isn’t safe to breathe?

We’re afraid to breathe when in close proximity to others due to COVID-19.

Here in California, wildfire smoke has turned the air toxic. As I’m writing this, the air quality at my place is 208, which earns it a rating of Very Unhealthy. I’m keeping all my windows closed, but I can still smell the smoke.

I don’t think I’ve consciously been taking shallower breaths, but I have been extremely jumpy lately. Maybe the jumpiness has nothing to do with whether or not I’m breathing deeply enough, but I figure a few deep breaths when the air isn’t too smokey and I’m alone and not in danger of COVID exposure, can’t hurt.

How about you? Is the air near you safe to breathe? If yes, have you ever tried deep breathing to calm you down?