“I can’t sit still.”

“I can’t make my mind stop.”

“I don’t like meditation.”

Have you found yourself saying these things? If sitting meditation isn’t for you, yet you want the benefits that come from these practices, you may want to try a gentle movement practice such as “Brain Break.”

In this 12-minute video, John Kavanaugh, recreation assistant from the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, offers a series of Qigong movements and breathing practices that will bring you a sense of calm.

So, let’s talk about breathing. The breath is with us from the moment we are born until the moment we die, but how often do we stop to notice it? I promise you that if you just stop to notice yourself taking three deep breaths every hour, your life will improve in wonderful ways.

Why is breathing important? It keeps us alive! Sometimes our breath can feel shallow and/or fast. For some people, this can happen all the time. For others, it can happen when they are stressed, in pain, panicked or anxious. Many people may not even realize this is happening. When your breath becomes shallow and fast, your nervous system becomes more stressed (“fight or flight”) instead of relaxed (“rest and digest”).

It’s beneficial to try and take deep, slow breaths, and practicing breathing exercises can help you breathe in a more relaxed way more of the time. This is better for your health.

There are many benefits to relaxed breathing. It can help your body and mind become calm. It can help you deal with stress. Practicing breathing before bed can help you fall asleep. Studies show that breathing exercises can help lower blood pressure. And,  breathing exercises are often used along with other treatments and self-care tools.

Learn more about the amazing power of the breath here: https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/Veteran-Handouts/docs/BreathingAndHealth-508Final-9-4-2018.pdf.


Andrea Young is a field implementation team consultant with VA’s Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation.

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