The Wim Hof Method is based on the extreme training methods of endurance athlete Wim Hof, often nicknamed the Iceman. This punishing natural training tool is a response to the under-stimulation of the body and over-stimulation of the mind caused by modern living.

Wim Hof claims that his method is a way to keep your mind and body in their optimal states. If you’re prepared for the challenge, read on for some apps that can help you to succeed at the Wim Hof Method.

What Is the Wim Hof Method?

The Wim Hof Method promises to reduce stress levels, increase your energy reserves, and strengthen your immune system. The method has three pillars: breathing exercises, cold therapy, and commitment.

There is an official Wim Hof Method app that you can use to learn the techniques. However, numerous apps provide a good alternative—particularly if you just want to tackle one pillar at a time.

The Wim Hof Method: Breathing

The first pillar of the Wim Hof philosophy, breathing exercises, are essential for succeeding on this journey. Better breathing techniques can lead to a reduction in stress, more energy, and a better immune response. There are several apps with breathing exercises for relaxation and mindfulness.

1. Breathwrk

Breathwrk is an award-winning app that offers breathing exercises designed to appeal to everyone. You don’t need to be an endurance athlete to benefit from its many features. Various practices and classes are offered, including a large Health section that addresses pain relief, migraine, and asthma.

There are speedy one-minute options to help you clear your mind and relax quickly, and there are also longer habit-building routines and challenges. You can undertake test breaths to check your lung capacity as you go.

Regardless of how you choose to use Breathwrk, you’ll find clear instructions and useful exercises. Although there’s an option to subscribe to Breathwrk Pro to unlock the complete catalog, there’s extensive free content to get you started.

Download: Breathwrk for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

2. iBreathe

iBreathe is a simple yet highly effective app for iOS users that will teach you the basics of all the main breathing exercises, such as 4-7-8 breathing and box breathing, without any extras to distract you.

Start one of the preset exercises and let the screen cues guide you. You can adjust all the settings to suit your needs, and it’s all presented against a calming blue background.

If you’re seeking a no-frills app to help you master classic breathing techniques, iBreathe will suit you perfectly.

Download: iBreathe for iOS (Free)

3. Breathonics

Breathonics is a music-focused app for Apple devices that will teach you how to breathe using electronic music and soundscapes. This innovative approach to breathing exercises mixes audio frequencies with music and instruction to provide a unique experience.

Subtitled Breathe Nap Sleep, Breathonics provides a series of guided breathing exercises coupled with sleep sound programs.

Quite different from any of the other approaches to learning breathing techniques on this list, Breathonics may appeal if you enjoy the way the modern meditation app Spoke combines music and voice to help you relax.

Download: Breathonics for iOS (Free, subscription available)

4. The Breathing App

Resonant breathing is the sole focus of The Breathing App. This approach to breathing, which encourages you to slow your breathing rate to between five and seven breaths per minute instead of the typical 15-18, offers a wide range of health benefits by leading your body into a calmer state. One Deep Breath breathwork app will also teach you breathing techniques to manage your stress.

The Breathing App makes it easy to practice resonant breathing. You simply follow the lead of an animated silver orb as it grows and shrinks against a dark background, while different audio tones prompt you to inhale and exhale.

Created by yoga expert Eddie Stern with the input of Deepak Chopra and Moby, this simple, beautiful tool is a free way to master better breathing habits.

Download: The Breathing App for iOS | Android (Free)

5. Breathe+

Breathe+ offers a simple, uncluttered way to visualize your breathing. Follow a guided exercise, or use the menu to set every element of a free-form breathing session, then relax and watch the calming green and blue hues fill the screen to depict your breathing pattern. You can adjust as you go, allowing you total control over each session.

Full integration with Apple Health makes this a perfect choice for iOS users. It’s free, but you can upgrade to remove the distracting ads and gain access to all features.

Download: Breath+ for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

6. Höffly

This is a Wim Hof-style guided breath app, although it is not affiliated with the official Wim Hof method. It shows you the Wim Hof breathing pattern without too much fuss or distraction. Although it offers a lot less content than the official Wim Hof app, this is reflected in the price. Free to use for a limited number of sessions daily, you can subscribe for unrestricted access for a minimal fee.

If you just want to practice the breathing element of the Wim Hof method, Höffly provides an inexpensive way to do this.

Download: Höffly for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

The Wim Hof Method: Cold Therapy

Wim Hof is most renowned for his practice of cold therapy. This second pillar of the Wim Hof method teaches you that proper exposure to the cold brings you many health benefits. These include fat loss, endorphin production, and better quality sleep.

7. Cold Water Therapy

This app allows you to practice cold water therapy safely without exposing yourself to undue risk. You start its timer function when you enter the cold water—whether that's a lake, bath, a shower, or the sea. Set the temperature of the water and set the alarm to alert you when it’s time to get out.

You can track and monitor your progress, and because it syncs with Apple Health, you can also keep a check on your pulse and other essential metrics. Cold Water Therapy is the perfect way to track your progress with this discipline.

Download: Cold Water Therapy for iOS | Android (Free)

8. Cryoshower

Track your progress in cold water therapy with Cryoshower, an app that records and guides you through taking cold showers, although it also works for baths and open-air swimming.

Start in a warm shower, then change the temperature to cold, and record how long you can endure the contrast. It’s easy to track your time, temperature, frequency, and even your mood afterward. Because it uses voice commands, it’s easy to record your actions, no matter where you are.

Download: Cryoshower for iOS | Android (Free)

9. Cold Shower

Cold Shower is an app for Android devices that works similarly to Cryoshower. There are two reasons why you might choose Cold Shower over Cryoshower. The first is that along with the tracking tools, there’s a reward system of badges and merits that celebrate your progress through various milestones on your cold water therapy journey. The second benefit is a Voice Coach to help you along, although this feature was not particularly motivational when tested.

Download: Cryoshower for Android (Free)

Practice Wim Hof Breathing and Cold Therapy for Well-Being

The third pillar of the Wim Hof method is commitment. And using these apps will make it much easier to persevere in the targets you’ve set yourself. Whether you’re trying to work on your breathing technique or gain the health benefits of cold water therapy, there are many great free or inexpensive alternatives to the official Wim Hof app to help you along your well-being journey.

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Girish ShuklaGirish ShuklaUpdated: 2 days ago
8 Benefits of consuming turmeric daily

Turmeric, a golden spice derived from the Curcuma longa plant's rhizomes, has been utilised in traditional medicine for ages for its multiple health benefits. The principal bioactive ingredient contained in turmeric, curcumin, is responsible for its brilliant colour and a variety of medicinal qualities. Turmeric has been demonstrated in studies to have a variety of health advantages, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, better brain function, and immune system support. This article will look at eight important benefits of ingesting turmeric on a daily basis, as well as the reasons for its growing appeal in current health and wellness circles.

1. Anti-inflammatory properties: Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, has significant anti-inflammatory qualities that aid in the treatment of chronic inflammation in the body. Persistent inflammation is a factor in many diseases and conditions, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), asthma, and autoimmune disorders.

Curcumin has been demonstrated to reduce joint pain and swelling in cases of arthritis by reducing the production of inflammatory chemicals such as cytokines and enzymes. This can assist improve total joint mobility and function, making daily activities easier for arthritis patients.

Curcumin's anti-inflammatory actions may help lower gut inflammation and increase gut barrier function in people with IBD, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Turmeric, by lowering inflammation, can help ease some of the symptoms of IBD, such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight loss.


Chronic inflammation of the airways in asthma can cause breathing difficulty and wheezing. The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may aid in lowering airway inflammation and improving lung function, potentially reducing the intensity and frequency of asthma attacks.

Furthermore, curcumin's anti-inflammatory properties may be useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. Turmeric may help reduce symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for persons with certain illnesses by regulating the immune system and lowering inflammation.

2. Antioxidant boost: Turmeric is a rich source of antioxidants, which play an important role in neutralising damaging free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable chemicals that can produce oxidative stress, which can result in cellular damage, ageing, and the development of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders.

Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant that not only directly neutralises free radicals but also boosts the body's own antioxidant defences. Curcumin protects cells and tissues from oxidative damage by scavenging free radicals, contributing to overall health and well-being.


Furthermore, turmeric's antioxidant capabilities may help reduce the ageing process both internally and topically. Curcumin can support healthy ageing at the cellular level by countering oxidative stress, potentially lowering the incidence of age-related illnesses. Turmeric's antioxidant properties may help maintain skin suppleness, minimise wrinkles, and diminish age spots, giving the skin a more youthful appearance.

3. Supports brain health: Curcumin, the bioactive ingredient in turmeric, has been demonstrated to have beneficial benefits on brain function and general brain health. Its neuroprotective characteristics may lead to enhanced cognition and memory, as well as a lower risk of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's.

Curcumin has been shown to increase the synthesis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that stimulates the development, survival, and differentiation of neurons. BDNF is essential for sustaining healthy brain function, promoting learning and memory, and promoting general cognitive health. BDNF deficiency has been linked to a variety of neurological illnesses, including depression and Alzheimer's disease. Curcumin may assist improve cognitive performance by increasing neurogenesis (the development of new neurons) and neuroplasticity (the brain's ability to rearrange and adapt).

Supports brain health

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative ailment defined by the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, which causes cognitive decline and memory loss. Curcumin has shown promise in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease through a variety of methods, including suppressing amyloid-beta plaque formation and aggregation, reducing inflammation, and countering oxidative stress. These effects may help protect brain cells from injury and halt disease progression.

Mood and mental health: Curcumin has also been shown to have antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. It is thought to alter neurotransmitter levels in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are important in mood regulation. Curcumin may help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety by balancing these neurotransmitters, therefore increasing general mental well-being.

4. Heart health: Curcumin, turmeric's main ingredient, has been found to enhance cardiovascular health by addressing various factors that contribute to heart disease, the leading cause of mortality worldwide.

Curcumin has been found to help regulate cholesterol levels in the body by reducing the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as "bad cholesterol." High LDL cholesterol levels can lead to plaque build-up in the arteries, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Curcumin may help maintain a better lipid profile and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by lowering LDL cholesterol and boosting HDL cholesterol, popularly known as "good cholesterol."

Preventing blood clots: Blood clots are harmful because they can impede blood flow, potentially leading to heart attacks and strokes. Curcumin has been proven to have anticoagulant and antiplatelet characteristics, which can aid in the prevention of blood clots. It reduces the risk of blood clot-related problems by inhibiting the activity of specific enzymes and proteins involved in the coagulation process.

Heart health

Endothelial function: The endothelium is the thin layer of cells that lines the interior of blood arteries and plays an important part in vascular health. Poor endothelial function can lead to atherosclerosis and raise the risk of heart disease. Curcumin has been shown to improve endothelial function by boosting the generation of nitric oxide, a chemical that aids in blood vessel relaxation, blood pressure regulation, and blood clotting prevention. Better blood flow and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease can result from the improved endothelial function.

Inflammation and oxidative stress: As previously established, curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress both play important roles in the development of heart disease. Curcumin may help protect the cardiovascular system and lessen the risk of heart disease by lowering inflammation and neutralising damaging free radicals.

5. Cancer prevention: Curcumin, the key ingredient in turmeric, has been widely researched for its anti-cancer qualities. Curcumin has shown encouraging results in the prevention and treatment of several forms of cancer through multiple mechanisms, but more research is needed to completely understand its effects.
Inhibiting cell growth: Curcumin has been proven to inhibit cancer cell growth and proliferation by targeting numerous cell signalling pathways. Curcumin can decrease tumour cell development by altering these pathways, effectively delaying cancer progression.

Apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death that is necessary for maintaining a healthy balance of cells in the body. Cancer cells frequently avoid apoptosis, allowing them to proliferate and reproduce uncontrollably. Curcumin has been shown to cause apoptosis in cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct and preventing cancer from spreading.

Cancer prevention

Angiogenesis inhibition: Angiogenesis refers to the production of new blood vessels that can feed nutrition and oxygen to tumours that are growing. Curcumin has been shown to prevent angiogenesis, effectively starving tumour cells and restricting their ability to proliferate.

Inflammation reduction: Chronic inflammation has been related to an increased risk of cancer development. The powerful anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may help reduce inflammation in the body, potentially lowering the risk of cancer development and progression.

Curcumin may assist improve the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy treatments by improving their capacity to kill cancer cells, according to some research. Curcumin may also help minimise some of the negative effects of chemotherapy, such as inflammation and oxidative stress.

While curcumin's potential cancer-fighting capabilities are encouraging, further research is needed to completely understand its effects and define ideal dosages for cancer prevention and treatment.

6. Aids digestion: Turmeric's key ingredient curcumin has been shown to assist the digestive system in a variety of ways. Adding turmeric to your regular diet may aid in the relief of digestive disorders and the promotion of general gut health.
Enhancing gut barrier function: The gut barrier absorbs nutrients selectively while preventing hazardous chemicals from entering the bloodstream. Curcumin has been found to help maintain and improve gut barrier integrity by lowering inflammation and increasing intestinal cell regeneration. A strong gut barrier is necessary for normal digestion as well as the avoidance of disorders like leaky gut syndrome and food allergies.

Reduces bloating and gas: Turmeric has long been used in Ayurveda medicine to treat bloating and gas. The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which can cause bloating and discomfort. Turmeric may also boost the formation of bile in the liver, which can aid with fat digestion and prevent gas collection in the stomach and intestines.

Aids digestion

Encouraging the growth of healthy gut bacteria: The gut microbiome, which is made up of billions of microorganisms that live in the intestines, is essential for digestion, immunity, and overall health. An imbalance in the gut microbiome, with fewer beneficial bacteria, has been related to a variety of health problems, including digestive disorders, obesity, and immune system malfunction. Curcumin contains prebiotic characteristics, which promote the growth of good gut bacteria and contribute to a healthier gut microbiome.

Turmeric's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may help ease a variety of gastrointestinal ailments, including indigestion, heartburn, and ulcerative colitis. Curcumin can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the GI tract, relieving discomfort and irritation.

7. Supports mental health:
Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, has been found to promote mental health by exerting antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. Its effect on brain function and neurotransmitter levels may aid in the improvement of mood and overall mental well-being.

Modulating neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine play an important part in mood and emotion regulation. Imbalances in these neurotransmitters can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Curcumin has been shown to impact neurotransmitter levels in the brain, potentially alleviating depression and anxiety symptoms.

Supports mental health

Increasing BDNF levels: As previously stated, curcumin has been proven to boost BDNF levels, a protein that supports the survival, development, and differentiation of neurons. Depression and anxiety problems have been linked to low BDNF levels. Curcumin may help enhance mood, reduce stress, and treat depression symptoms by increasing BDNF production.

Lowering oxidative stress and inflammation: Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress have been linked to the development of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Curcumin's significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities may aid in the reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, boosting mental health and overall well-being.

Curcumin's neuroprotective qualities can help protect brain cells from injury while also promoting overall brain health. A healthy brain is more resistant to stress and better prepared to deal with mental health issues.

8. Boosts the immune system: Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, has been proven to have immunomodulatory characteristics, which can assist support and improving the immune system. A strong immune system is necessary for the body's defence against infections, illnesses, and other dangerous intruders.

Curcumin has been discovered to regulate the activity of numerous immune cells, including T cells, B cells, macrophages, and natural killer (NK) cells. Curcumin can help improve the body's immune defence mechanisms by affecting the function and reaction of these immune cells, making it better able to fight diseases and preserve overall health.

Curcumin, as previously stated, has significant anti-inflammatory qualities that can aid in the treatment of chronic inflammation in the body. Persistent inflammation has been related to a compromised immune system and an increased risk of developing a variety of diseases. Curcumin may help improve immune function and promote a better immunological response by lowering inflammation.

Curcumin has also been shown to have antibacterial activity against a variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Its capacity to suppress the growth and proliferation of these hazardous germs can aid in the prevention of infections and the overall health of the immune system.

Boosts the immune system

Curcumin's potent antioxidant qualities can aid in the neutralisation of damaging free radicals in the body, decreasing oxidative stress and minimising cellular damage. Curcumin can maintain a healthy immune system and boost general well-being by countering oxidative stress.

Consider including turmeric into your regular diet in the form of meals, beverages, or supplements to reap the immune-boosting effects. However, before incorporating turmeric or curcumin supplements into your routine, you should contact a healthcare expert, especially if you have any pre-existing health concerns or are using drugs.

Finally, the numerous health benefits of turmeric, mostly linked to its active ingredient curcumin, make it an important addition to your regular diet. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory characteristics, as well as its capacity to promote brain, heart, and digestive health, have gotten a lot of attention recently. While turmeric has been utilised in traditional medicine for centuries, scientific research is continuing to find its promise in enhancing overall health and well-being. It is critical to remember that turmeric should be used in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet. Before incorporating turmeric or curcumin supplements into your diet, consult with a healthcare expert, especially if you have any pre-existing health concerns or are using drugs. Accept the power of this golden spice to help you on your way to a healthier and happier existence.

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Breathing out anxiety is just a long exhale away. While any kind of breath work is useful, cyclic sighing is one of the most effective. It enhances mood and lowers physiological arousal (respiratory rate, heart rate and heart rate variability), according to a report published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, in January this year.

Delhi-based college student Arpit Gupta is testimony to its potency. As a socially anxious person, he would stutter every time he had to face a group of people, especially strangers. A few quick rounds of exhalation-focused cyclic sighing, though, relax him instantly. Not just that, the technique that he learnt from his basketball coach in school has even reduced his stuttering.

In moments of severe stress, breathing takes a beating, causing an oxygen deficit in the brain. “Five minutes of daily cyclic sighing for three weeks offer results better than even mindfulness meditation, an otherwise powerful medium of relaxation,” says Gurugram-based psychotherapist Shagun Mehta, adding, 

“The reason is that in cyclic sighing, the longest nerve in the body—the vagus—gets activated. With long belly exhalations, it secretes a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that brings the heart rate down and signals the body to relax. The vagus is also responsible for the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system of the brain responsible for essential body functions such as ‘rest and digest’. As this part is triggered, the sympathetic nervous system—the ‘fight or flight’ response—gets suppressed.”

Even though there are other breathing styles to calm oneself, such as box breathing, which involves inhaling, holding and exhaling in equal proportions, and cyclic hyperventilation (a rapid inhalation, short retention and a forceful exhalation), cyclic sighing follows a 1:2 ratio in which exhalation is twice as long as inhalation, making it the most effective.

“It allows for a greater interception that helps you notice what’s going on inside the body and regulate it. For example, if you know you’re breathing short because of stress, you’ll consciously correct that by breathing deeply,” says Mehta. It all begins and ends with a sigh, it seems.

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If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know just how unpleasant it can be. What triggers them and how they present themselves can vary greatly from one person to the next; but generally, panic attack symptoms include shaking, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If you’re feeling panicked or experiencing a strong and sudden onslaught of anxiety, there’s a surprising mental health hack that may help calm you down quickly. Here’s how an ice cube can keep a panic attack at bay.

What is the ice cube hack?

The ice cube hack is deceptively simple — yet it may be effective for panic attacks, which can be triggered by anything from over-breathing, to long periods of stress, to activities that lead to intense physical reactions (e.g. excessive coffee drinking). To quell your panic with an ice cube, all you have to do is hold that ice cube in your hand. Focus on feeling the cold temperature and smooth texture of the ice, and you may find yourself starting to calm down. 

Where does the ice cube hack come from?

This trick was popularized in a TikTok video from Dr. Julie Smith, a psychologist who shares anti-anxiety tips with her 4.3 million followers. In her video explaining the ice cube hack, she also suggests other ways to use ice cubes for panic: Instead of merely holding the cube, you can move it up and down your arm to feel the cooling sensation; put it in your mouth; or rub it on your face. You can even dip your face in a bowl of ice water, a trick that Dr. Smith says is equally handy for when you’re experiencing overwhelming emotions.

Why does the ice cube hack work?

Essentially, an ice cube can distract a racing mind. The coldness gives you something new to focus on (rather than feelings of panic), plus it has the added benefit of cooling you down, which can be particularly helpful since panic attacks often induce sweating. Focusing on the unique sensations of the ice cube — instead of on your uncomfortable panic attack symptoms — can become a form of calming meditation, helping to keep you grounded. And using an ice cube to ease panic is more than just a TikTok trend; there’s real science behind it, as multiple studies have found that applying an icy compress or even drinking ice water may slow down your heart rate and cause a shift in your parasympathetic nervous system.

However, the ice cube hack is not without its limitations. You may experience a panic attack while out in the world instead of at home, meaning you won’t have immediate access to ice. If this is the case, see if you can procure a cup of ice water to drink — the cold exposure may still help in this form. If you are experiencing frequent panic attacks, you might have panic disorder — so it’s best for you to see a doctor or therapist to address your condition.

An ice cube isn’t going to cure all your anxiety. But in a moment of panic, it can serve as a quick and easy tool to help you quiet your racing thoughts or calm your over-stimulated body.

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Air pollution may worsen asthma symptoms and trigger asthma attacks. Exposure to air pollution when their mother was pregnant and in childhood may also increase a person’s risk of developing asthma. Monitoring air pollution levels can help asthmatics avoid health effects.

People with asthma have airways that are sensitive to various substances, or triggers, in the air. Air pollution and other airborne irritants are among the most common asthma triggers.

Air pollution is the presence of pollutants in the air that are hazardous to humans and other living things.

This article explores how air pollution affects asthma and what people with asthma should know about air pollution.

An image of an asthma inhaler and air pollution from a chimney.Share on Pinterest
Design by Medical News Today; photography by Karl Tapales/Getty Images and Eric Yang/Getty Images

Research suggests that air pollution at high concentrations may trigger asthma flares because it inflames and irritates the lining and receptors in a person’s airways. This causes the airways to tighten and swell, a common symptom of asthma.

Air pollution also contains substances that are toxic to the respiratory tract. Exposure to certain pollutants can trigger oxidative stress, a feature seen in severe asthma.

Oxidative stress is a condition where there are too many unstable molecules, known as free radicals, in the body and not enough antioxidants (substances that prevent cell damage) to get rid of them.

It can lead to tissue damage, such as from inflammation and hyperresponsiveness, in a person’s airways. Airway hyperresponsiveness is when a person’s airways are more sensitive to stimuli, such as pollutants, and narrow too much in response.

Ozone, a common air pollutant, triggers asthma attacks and makes it difficult to breathe deeply, as well as reducing lung function.

Learn more about the types and causes of asthma here.

Does air pollution cause people to develop asthma?

A 2020 review suggests that indoor and outdoor air pollution can contribute to the development of asthma.

The effects of oxidative stress due to air pollution can cause genetically susceptible people to develop asthma.

Exposure to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP), particularly during the second trimester of pregnancy, also has links with an increased risk of asthma development in children.

Childhood exposure to TRAP also increases the risk of asthma. A 2020 study found that exposure to air pollution early in life increased a person’s risk of developing asthma from childhood to early adulthood.

A mother’s exposure to secondhand smoke and maternal smoking may also increase an unborn infant’s risk of developing asthma, but genetic predisposition can also play a role.

Read more about the effects of air pollution on pregnancy here.

The types of air pollutants that can affect asthma are as follows:

Particulate matter (PM2.5) consists of tiny particles of solids and liquids in the air. These particles can include:

Fine PM2.5 particles typically deposit throughout the respiratory tract, particularly in a person’s small airways and alveoli — tiny air sacs in the lungs.

Larger (coarse) particulate matter mainly deposits in the upper airways. Examples are organic debris from soil, road dust and metals, and roadway particles such as brake wear.

A 2017 study found that those with exposure to coarse particulate matter were more likely to develop asthma and need hospitalization or emergency visits.

Learn more about how the respiratory system works here.

Researchers have conducted numerous studies on the association between air pollution and asthma.

A 2017 study found that exposure to specific components of TRAP had a positive association with asthma onset.

Findings from a retrospective study show that air pollution is an independent risk factor for exacerbating asthma in the absence of viral infections.

A study in Denmark found that children with exposure to higher levels of PM2.5 are more likely to develop persistent wheezing and asthma.

Learn more about how pollution from traffic increases death risk here.

The American Lung Association advises people to take the following steps:

  1. Check for daily air pollution forecasts in TV weather reports, radio, online, and in newspapers.
  2. Avoid going outdoors when air pollution is high.
  3. Avoid exercising near high-traffic areas.
  4. Use less energy in the home because generating electricity and other energy sources creates air pollution.
  5. Look for alternatives to driving a car, such as using public transportation, carpooling, walking, or riding a bike.
  6. Do not burn trash or wood.
  7. Keep public places tobacco-free, and do not smoke indoors.

People with asthma can speak with a healthcare professional about the possibility of increasing their medication when air pollution is high. A person can include this in their own or their children’s asthma action plan.

A person should contact a healthcare professional immediately if they experience:

  • feeling faint, weak, or dizzy
  • finding it challenging to perform their usual routines
  • a cough that does not go away
  • wheezing, especially if it is different from their usual breathing pattern
  • wheezing that does not get better even after taking medications

Here are some common questions about air pollution and asthma.

Which climate is worst for asthma?

Extreme weather and sudden weather changes can irritate the airways. Some types of weather that can trigger asthma symptoms are:

Learn about other common asthma triggers here.

What are the potential sources of indoor air pollution?

There are many potential sources of indoor air pollution. They typically release gas or particles and include:

  • tobacco products
  • building materials and furnishings, such as flooring, upholstery, or insulation containing asbestos
  • humidification devices and central cooling and heating systems
  • personal care and hobby products
  • household cleaning products
  • excess moisture
  • outdoor pollution, such as pesticides and radon

Air pollution is a significant contributor to the development of asthma. It can also trigger and worsen symptoms in people with asthma.

It is vital for people with asthma to stay informed of air pollution levels and take necessary precautions to avoid triggering asthma attacks.

They should also talk with a healthcare professional if they experience any signs that their asthma is worsening.

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Severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks are serious health conditions that require prompt and proper management. If left untreated, these conditions can be life-threatening and cause significant harm to the body if not managed properly.

It is essential to understand the importance of these conditions and know how to recognize the symptoms in order to take the necessary steps. By gaining knowledge about these conditions, you can help yourself or others in an emergency and potentially save a life.

Understanding Severe Allergic Reactions and Asthma Attacks

Severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis, are rapid-onset and potentially life-threatening reactions to an allergen. Allergens can be substances such as foods, medications, insect stings, or other environmental triggers that are normally harmless to most people.

However, for some individuals, exposure to these allergens can cause a range of symptoms, from mild itching or swelling to difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or shock.

During an anaphylactic reaction, the immune system overreacts to the allergen and releases a cascade of chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream. This can lead to a range of symptoms affecting multiple systems of the body, including:

  •       Skin: hives, itching, redness, swelling, or a feeling of warmth
  •       Respiratory: shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or a tight feeling in the chest
  •       Cardiovascular: low blood pressure, rapid or weak pulse, or loss of consciousness
  •       Gastrointestinal: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain
  •       Neurological: anxiety, confusion, or dizziness

Without treatment, anaphylaxis can quickly progress to a life-threatening condition, and death may occur within minutes to hours.

Asthma, on the other hand, is a chronic lung disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, making it difficult for the person to breathe.

Asthma attacks, also called exacerbations, occur when the airways become even more inflamed and narrowed, making it hard to move air in and out of the lungs.

The symptoms of an asthma attack can vary in severity and duration but typically include the following:

  •       Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  •       Wheezing or whistling sound when exhaling
  •       Chest tightness or pain
  •       Coughing, particularly at night or early morning

Various factors, such as allergens, exercise, cold air, respiratory infections, stress, or irritants like smoke or pollution, can trigger asthma attacks. In severe cases, an asthma attack can lead to respiratory failure, a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

In both severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks, time is of the essence. Knowing how to recognize the symptoms and take appropriate action can be lifesaving.

The Importance of First Aid Intervention

Severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks can be life-threatening and require prompt and proper management. First aid intervention can make a significant difference in preventing further complications and potentially saving a life. At First Aid Course Campbelltown, teaches you how to appropriately administer situations like these. 

First Aid for Severe Allergic Reaction (Anaphylaxis)

The first step in first aid intervention for anaphylaxis is identifying and removing the trigger if possible. For example, if a person has been stung by a bee and is experiencing an allergic reaction, remove the stinger and any remaining venom from the skin. Next, call emergency medical services and provide basic life support as needed.

One of the most effective treatments for anaphylaxis is administering an epinephrine injection (EpiPen), which can help reverse the symptoms and improve breathing. If the person has been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, administer it promptly according to the instructions.

If the person does not have an EpiPen, the first aider should only attempt to administer epinephrine if they have been trained to do so.

Other first aid measures for anaphylaxis include maintaining an open airway, keeping the person lying down and elevating their legs if they are experiencing a shock. The first aider can also help monitor the person’s vital signs, such as pulse and blood pressure, until medical help arrives.

First Aid for Asthma Attacks

Asthma attacks can also be life-threatening and require immediate attention. While medications such as bronchodilators and steroids are commonly used to manage the condition, first-aid measures can also be helpful in managing an asthma attack.

The first step in first aid intervention for an asthma attack is to help the person sit up straight and stay calm. If the person has a quick-relief inhaler, assist them in using it. If the person struggles to breathe, encourage them to take slow and deep breaths and try to get them to a location with fresh air.

Other first aid measures for asthma attacks include loosening tight clothing, ensuring the person has access to medications, and monitoring their vital signs. If the person’s condition does not improve, call emergency medical services immediately.

First aid intervention can be lifesaving in the case of severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks. It is essential to know how to recognize the symptoms of these conditions and understand basic first-aid measures to prevent the situation from becoming worse.

A First Aid Course Brisbane is an excellent way to learn lifesaving skills and be prepared to handle emergencies. Remember, the most important thing in an emergency is to act quickly and effectively to help save a life.

You may be interested in: How Toxic Air From 9/11 Caused Serious Issues

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If you have asthma, you might notice symptoms that pop up only at night or worsen as the evening goes on. Doctors aren't totally sure why this can happen, but which classification of asthma you belong to may dictate how your asthma behaves at night (via Self). There are four types of asthma: mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent. Moderate and severe classifications usually mean that you're having symptoms at least one night per week, if not more often.

This could be because there are more triggers present where you sleep, like dust mites or pet dander in your bed. When you spend 7-9 hours in bed, these allergens can interfere with breathing, making sleep difficult. Your levels of the stress hormone cortisol could also increase at night, which causes the airways to become inflamed. If you have other health conditions, they might interact with asthma and make your symptoms worse. Sleep apnea and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are two conditions that can also make it harder for you to get some shuteye.

Some ways to help treat nighttime asthma are using a rescue inhaler, sipping water, and sleeping in a more upright position (via CNN Health). You could also make changes to your medication dosage or even the timing of taking your medication. Talk to your doctor about your treatment plan and how to best manage nighttime asthma.

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STANFORD, Calif. — People with asthma and eczema have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis, warns a new study. Researchers have linked these allergic conditions to a higher chance of developing the most common type of arthritis. The research goes on to suggest that treatments for allergic reactions could help decrease the risk of having joint problems.

Commonly known as “wear and tear” arthritis, study authors note that osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions and protects the ends of your bones breaks down. Middle-aged and older adults are the most prone to developing osteoarthritis, but the current study adds another vulnerable group of people to that list. According to the National Institutes of Health, eczema (or atopic dermatitis) is an inflammatory skin condition affecting roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population at some point in their lives.

The study authors analyzed medical claims submitted to a nationwide U.S. insurance database between 2003 and 2019. There were 117,346 people with either allergic asthma or eczema. The average person in the study was middle-aged, with 60 percent identifying as women. The team then compared the group with allergies to another group of people in the database without allergies.

People with allergic asthma or eczema were 58 percent more likely to develop osteoarthritis within the next eight years compared to people without allergies. To put that into perspective, there would be 27 new cases versus 19 new cases of arthritis if the team monitored 100 people with and without allergies over the next 10 years.

Among the 4,325 with eczema and allergic asthma, people were twice as likely to develop osteoarthritis than healthy individuals. The risk also differed depending on the breathing conditions people have. People with allergic asthma were 83 percent more likely to have osteoarthritis over eight years than those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While both conditions involve the airways, the researchers suggest having COPD has less of a connection because it does not involve allergic pathways.

Woman with asthma using inhaler
(© bobex73 –

One of the potential reasons people with allergic reactions may develop osteoarthritis is because of their overactive immune system. More specifically, there is growing evidence suggesting the activation of a white blood cell called mast cells and inflammatory chemicals during an allergic reaction contributes to the gradual breakdown of joint tissues.

The team also looked at the health records from the Stanford Research Repository between 2010 and 2020 to see if they would find a similar pattern. Their predictions continued to be right as there was a 42-percent higher risk among those with allergic asthma or eczema and a 19-percent higher risk if someone had both conditions.

Obesity has been known to raise the risk of osteoarthritis because it puts extra stress on weight-bearing joints like the hips. Since the medical records showed a weaker association between allergies and osteoarthritis, it’s likely there are other factors involved in the development of the disease. Study authors say another point to consider is the lack of information on the severity of allergic asthma or osteoarthritis and over-the-counter medication. The team notes these limitations may influence the study findings.

“If this is indeed true, non-atopic patients may also benefit from the use of treatments that inhibit mast cells and allergic cytokines to treat or prevent [osteoarthritis],” researchers say in a media release.

The study is published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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Stress can also make you more likely to get heart disease because it can raise your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and can lead to smoking, drinking alcohol, and overeating. Finally, the use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, can also increase the risk of a heart attack by constricting the blood vessels and increasing heart rate and blood pressure.

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually due to plaque buildup in the coronary arteries. Several risk factors can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and increase the risk of a heart attack. If you know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and get medical help immediately, you can reduce damage to the heart muscle and improve your chances of survival.

How many people die from heart attacks every year?

Heart attacks are a major cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 17.9 million people die from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) yearly, including heart attacks. This accounts for approximately 32% of all deaths worldwide.

In the United States alone, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and it is estimated that someone has a heart attack around every 34 seconds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that, as of 2020, about 697,000 Americans die yearly from heart disease, around one of every five deaths.

While heart attacks can be fatal, early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes and reduce the risk of complications. Recognizing the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack, such as pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness or fainting, and seeking immediate medical attention can make a significant difference in survival rates and outcomes.

Prevention is also key to reducing the number of deaths from heart attacks. By making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and managing chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, individuals can significantly lower their risk of experiencing a heart attack and improve their overall heart health.

What are the main warning signs of a heart attack?

The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person, and some people may not have any symptoms at all. But the most common signs of a heart attack are pain or discomfort in the chest, pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach, shortness of breath, sweating, feeling nauseous or throwing up, feeling dizzy, and passing out. It is also important to note that these warning signs may be slightly different for men and women. Women may experience symptoms that are less often associated with heart attacks, such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

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Katy from looks at Anxiety and how you can overcome it

Anxiety is a natural response to stress or danger and is a common emotion experienced by most people at some point in their lives. However, for some individuals, anxiety can become a chronic or excessive response to stress, which can interfere with their daily life. The good news is there are plenty of ways to reduce it!

The exact causes of anxiety can vary from person to person and can involve a combination of factors, including:

1) Environmental factors: Traumatic or stressful events, unresolved trauma, or a major life change. Stress is the main cause of anxiety, and while our brain is designed to cope with one big stressor it can become overwhelmed with one too many smaller stressors and confuses this with threats of danger. Our body responds the same to stress and threats of danger and this is why managing your stress first, is essential for overcoming anxiety.

2) Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, menopause and thyroid disorders, can increase the risk of developing anxiety. This is why it is important to have a physical health check to rule out any organic causes.

3) Genetics: Anxiety can run in families, indicating that there may be a genetic component to the condition but this could also be due to learnt behaviour. It’s important to know a behaviour is learned it can be unlearned over time with consistent effort or support form a healthcare professional

4) Personality: People who are naturally more anxious or prone to worry may be more likely to experience anxiety. Negative thinking is again a learnt behaviour that with time and effort can be change to more positive thinking. Keeping a gratitude diary can help to start changing the process. Write down each day two things you are grateful for and three things you have achieved.

5) Brain chemistry: Imbalances in certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, can contribute to the development of anxiety. Exercise, diet, strong community support, sunlight exposure and relaxation techniques are all important methods for increasing serotonin and dopamine.

6) Substance abuse: The use of drugs or alcohol can contribute to the development of anxiety or exacerbate existing anxiety symptoms. It’s important to note that excess drug or alcohol use can also be a negative coping mechanism to manage symptoms of anxiety, which is why it is important to get support with managing your anxiety effectively.

Treatment for anxiety can vary deepening on the cause and severity.

Overall, anxiety can have a significant impact on the brain, affecting its structure and function. However, with appropriate treatment, such as CBT, medication, or stress management techniques, the negative effects of anxiety on the brain can be reduced, and individuals can learn to manage their symptoms more effectively.

Bearing in mind that life stressors can be the main contributing factor to experiencing anxiety, lifestyle changes are usually the first point of call.

If you are experiencing a difficult relationship, extreme work stress or financial difficulties, it’s important to address these first, as other treatments will not be affective if you have not tried to remove or lessen the root cause first.

The best ways to alleviate stress are:

1)  Almost any physical activity can help reduce stress.  Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters and it improves your body’s ability to use oxygen resulting in increased blood flow
2)   Deep breathing is a technique that allows you to calm your mind and reduce the amount of stress hormones in your blood. It enables you to calm down rapidly, Improve focus and concentration.
3)   Studies involving MRI scans show that the amygdala shrinks in response to meditation practice. As the amygdala reduces in size, the prefrontal cortex — the area of the brain governing our awareness becomes thicker
4)   Yoga can help mitigate stress responses by controlling breathing, reducing tensions and focusing the mind on the physical experience rather than our busy minds
5)   Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night
6)   Relaxation techniques such as taking a warm bath, having a hot drink or getting a massage help to reduce our stress hormones
7)   Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool as people come up with solutions more easily when they write down their worries
8)   Engaging in activities you enjoy can reduce stress by promoting relaxation and providing distraction from everyday stressors
9)   The body responds to stress with muscle tension, which can cause pain or discomfort. In turn, tense muscles relay to the body that it’s stressed. That keeps the cycle of stress and muscle tension going. Progressive muscle relaxation helps break this cycle by reducing muscle tension and anxiety. It involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group one by one
10) Current findings indicate that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronise with the beat causing alpha brainwaves (frequencies from 8 – 14 hertz or cycles per second). This alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed and conscious
11) A recent study found that people who spent two hours a week in nature (either all at once or over several visits), were substantially more likely to report good physical and mental health than those who didn’t. This study showed there were no benefits for people who did not meet the two-hour threshold
12) Improving time management by writing a to do list, helps to prioritise tasks and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed

If you are unsure of the root cause, speaking to a healthcare professional can help. If you have managed life stresses and ruled out any physical causes other treatments that can be effective are:

After a period of stress your amygdala will remain on high alert, as it is not always good at detecting when a treat or stress has come to an end. This is why it’s important to teach your brain that the threat is no longer there or the stress has come to an end through a series of relaxation techniques.

Following this you might need some additional support such as talking therapies, medication or exposure therapy which you will need to speak to your GP about as a first point a of call.

If you are still struggling with sleep you can speak to your GP, or Katy offers an online consultation service. (Details below)

Please email any questions you have related to mental health that you would like addressing in the next article to Katy [email protected]

For individual assessment please book here:

For retreats please book here:

For more in our series click here

Dealing with depression

For inspiring stories of our friends real life victories over mental health issues see

A life less ordinary

Sleepless nights

The trouble with weed.


The surfer and the sag

Who rescues the rescuers


Sleepless nights


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By Jeff Wig

It was becoming clear to me that something was wrong. Several times after reviewing a work document, I noticed I left out several words I was sure I had typed. When having a casual conversation with a friend, I would suddenly forget what I was trying to say. I was short-tempered and intolerant of both friends and family. I felt weak, and that is not me.

An endurance event takes a toll

In the end, the space needed to work on focus and clarity is minimal; it could even be the chair you are sitting in. Get into your mind so you can get out of your head.

In the end, the space needed to work on focus and clarity is minimal; it could even be the chair you are sitting in. Get into your mind so you can get out of your head. (Getty Images)

Anyone who knew me would have said I was laser focused and sought out physically demanding challenges. I routinely took part in 24-hour endurance events where I pushed my body far and used my mind to go even farther. That was until a fateful night during one of those events when I face-planted into the concrete and came up dazed and bloody.

After the head injury, my ego urged me to “brush it off” and keep going, and I did finish the part of the event I was in, a 12-mile timed run/march. I withdraw due to my injuries; my body and mind took quite a hit, and I knew it was over.

Over the next few weeks, I tried to brush off the forgetfulness and the other issues. Finally, I listened to my wife and went to the doctor. By the end of the appointment, I was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and pulled from duty to rest and heal for the next several weeks. The weight of my mental limitations set in as I sat at home. I began to feel like I needed to just try harder and push through it. I did not want to feel weak. After all, by this time I had done so many events by using my mind to push my body, that I reckoned a little bump to the head was not enough to take me out.

Moving forward

Finally healed enough to be released back to duty, I was far from cured. Little advice was given on how to move forward to remedy the lingering issues I was having with stuttered speech, forgotten words and other memory problems. It was becoming clear that this injury was more serious than I realized.

I confided in some trusted friends about what I was going through. They knew me as being strong and focused but had also noticed changes in me after the injury. Luckily, these friends happened to be deeply involved in breathing techniques, yoga and meditation. Over time I trained with them and opened my mind to learning new ways to heal both my body and my brain. I spent several months working closely with them using newly learned breathing techniques, meditation and controlled body movement exercises. To my surprise, most of my memory and speech issues disappeared. I used mindfulness to heal…and it was helping to create a more focused me.

Police1 resource: How to develop a tactical yoga routine

The power of Mindfulness

Over the past several years, I have seen the term mindfulness spoken about in law enforcement and fitness arenas to describe ways to help reduce stress and improve overall health and well-being.

The term has a varying definition depending on whom you ask. So, the first question is: What is mindfulness? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines mindfulness as:

1. The quality or state of being mindful. 2. Maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. Also: such a state of awareness.

In actual practice, though, I feel this definition needs to be revised. I relate mindfulness not only to a state of awareness but to a whole-body approach that incorporates the practice of yoga, meditation and controlled breathing in a combined effort to reduce stress and increase health and mobility.

Police1 resource: Practice mindfulness for just 2 minutes today

Controlled breathing

Interest in deliberate, controlled breathing for stress reduction has increased over the past several years.

Controlled breathing differs from meditation techniques in that you can control your breathing rate even if you are in an active state. This is especially true in high-stress careers like law enforcement, nursing, and emergency medical and fire services.

Controlled breathing can be used virtually anywhere to help control emotions, heart rate and clarity of thought. There are a number of benefits from using controlled breathing techniques, but one of the most notable is that controlled breathing through the nose has been shown to increase activity in the brain, affecting bodily activities like mobility, cognition and emotion. 

Police1 resource: Why you should combat breathe before you leave


During my journey, I began to look forward to the calming effects meditation had on my mind, slowing things down and helping me not to feel overwhelmed. Meditation activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which stimulates the nerves that go to the head. Like the previously mentioned breathing techniques, meditation also helps to lower our heart rate, leads to relaxation and can reduce blood pressure.

A great starting point is "Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners" by Barry Boyce and "How to Sit in Meditation for Beginners" by Elisha Goldstein. Both articles help to cover several questions those just starting meditation would have.

Police1 resource: Why meditation belongs in law enforcement


After making the decision to let go of personal bias toward these practices, it felt like a fog was lifted. While not completely “fixed,” I have gotten to the point where I experience very few memory-related issues. I try to be disciplined throughout my day to focus on my breath and take short meditation breaks. In the end, the space needed to work on focus and clarity is minimal; it could even be the chair you are sitting in. Get into your mind so you can get out of your head. 


1. Boyadzhieva A, Kayhan E. (2012.) Keeping the Breath in Mind: Respiration, Neural Oscillations, and the Free Energy Principle. Front Neurosci, 15:647579.

2. Boyce B. (March 28, 2019.) Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners.  

3. Goldstein E. (September 24, 2021.) How to Sit in Meditation for Beginners.  

4. Liang NC. (August 23, 2022.) A 12-Minute 4-7-8 Breathing Meditation.  

5. Mindworks Team. (July 12, 2022.) Meditation and the Automatic Nervous System.   

About the author

Jeff Wig is a 22-year veteran of the Sycamore Police Department in Sycamore, Illinois. He has served as a patrol officer, school resource officer, detective, patrol and investigations sergeant, and is currently deputy chief of police over operations. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Illinois State University and is currently working on a master’s degree in criminal justice education through the University of Virginia. He is a graduate of Northwestern School of Police Staff Command, Class 370, and a graduate of the FBI National Academy – Session 285.

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If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know just how unpleasant it can be. What triggers them and how they present themselves can vary greatly from one person to the next; but generally, panic attack symptoms include shaking, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If you’re feeling panicked or experiencing a strong and sudden onslaught of anxiety, there’s a surprising mental health hack that may help calm you down quickly. Here's how an ice cube can keep a panic attack at bay.

What is the ice cube hack?

The ice cube hack is deceptively simple — yet it may be effective for panic attacks, which can be triggered by anything from over-breathing, to long periods of stress, to activities that lead to intense physical reactions (e.g. excessive coffee drinking). To quell your panic with an ice cube, all you have to do is hold that ice cube in your hand. Focus on feeling the cold temperature and smooth texture of the ice, and you may find yourself starting to calm down.

Where does the ice cube hack come from?

This trick was popularized in a TikTok video from Dr. Julie Smith, a psychologist who shares anti-anxiety tips with her 4.3 million followers. In her video explaining the ice cube hack, she also suggests other ways to use ice cubes for panic: Instead of merely holding the cube, you can move it up and down your arm to feel the cooling sensation; put it in your mouth; or rub it on your face. You can even dip your face in a bowl of ice water, a trick that Dr. Smith says is equally handy for when you're experiencing overwhelming emotions.

Why does the ice cube hack work?

Essentially, an ice cube can distract a racing mind. The coldness gives you something new to focus on (rather than feelings of panic), plus it has the added benefit of cooling you down, which can be particularly helpful since panic attacks often induce sweating. Focusing on the unique sensations of the ice cube — instead of on your uncomfortable panic attack symptoms — can become a form of calming meditation, helping to keep you grounded. And using an ice cube to ease panic is more than just a TikTok trend; there’s real science behind it, as multiple studies have found that applying an icy compress or even drinking ice water may slow down your heart rate and cause a shift in your parasympathetic nervous system.

However, the ice cube hack is not without its limitations. You may experience a panic attack while out in the world instead of at home, meaning you won't have immediate access to ice. If this is the case, see if you can procure a cup of ice water to drink — the cold exposure may still help in this form. If you are experiencing frequent panic attacks, you might have panic disorder — so it's best for you to see a doctor or therapist to address your condition.

An ice cube isn’t going to cure all your anxiety. But in a moment of panic, it can serve as a quick and easy tool to help you quiet your racing thoughts or calm your over-stimulated body.

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Yoga for golfers is a specialized practice that focuses on improving flexibility, balance and strength in the muscles used in golf.

Golf is a sport that requires focus, concentration and control. As a golfer, it's important to maintain physical fitness to improve your game and prevent injuries. Yoga can be an excellent way for golfers to improve their golf performance and prevent injuries.

Best yoga poses for golfers

As a golfer, it is important to maintain physical fitness. (Photo via Pexels/Jopwell)
As a golfer, it is important to maintain physical fitness. (Photo via Pexels/Jopwell)

Here are ten such poses:

#1 Downward facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana)

Downward facing dog helps stretch the hamstrings, calves and spine. It also strengthens the arms and shoulders, which are important for golf swings.

#2 Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)

This pose strengthens the legs, hips and core muscles. It also improves balance and stability, which is important for maintaining proper posture during a golf swing.

#3 Triangle pose (Trikonasana)

This yoga pose stretches the hamstrings, hips and spine. (Photo via Pexels/RODNAE Productions)
This yoga pose stretches the hamstrings, hips and spine. (Photo via Pexels/RODNAE Productions)

This yoga pose stretches the hamstrings, hips and spine. It also improves balance and strengthens the legs, which are important for golf swings.

#4 Tree pose (Vrksasana)

This yoga for golfers improves balance and stability, which are important for maintaining proper posture during golf swings. It also strengthens the legs, hips and core muscles.

#5 Extended side angle pose (Utthita parsvakonasana)

This yoga for golfers pose stretches the hips, hamstrings and spine. It also strengthens the legs and core muscles, which are important for golf swings.

#6 Camel pose (Ustrasana)

The camel pose stretches the front of the body, including the chest, abdomen and hip flexors. It also strengthens the back muscles, which can help improve posture and prevent injuries.

#7 Cow face pose (Gomukhasana)

This pose stretches the hips, shoulders and chest. It can help improve flexibility in the shoulders, which is important for golf swings.

#8 Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)

The paschimottanasana stretches the hamstrings, calves and spine. It can help improve flexibility in the lower back, which is important for maintaining proper posture during golf swings.

#9 Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)

This yoga pose stretches the chest and strengthens the back muscles. (Photo via Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto)
This yoga pose stretches the chest and strengthens the back muscles. (Photo via Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto)

The cobra pose stretches the chest and strengthens the back muscles. It can help improve posture and prevent injuries.

#10 Half pigeon pose (Ardha kapotasana)

This yoga pose stretches the hips, thighs and glutes. It can help improve flexibility in the hips, which is important for golf swings.

Breath control for golfers

Another important aspect of yoga for golfers is breath control. (Photo via Pexels/Kelvin Valerio)
Another important aspect of yoga for golfers is breath control. (Photo via Pexels/Kelvin Valerio)

Another important aspect of yoga for golfers is breath control. In yoga, practitioners are taught to focus on their breath and use it as a tool for calming the mind and reducing stress. That can be especially helpful for golfers who often experience nerves and anxiety on the course.

Learning to control your breath can also help with rhythm and timing in your golf swings. By syncing your breath with your movements, you can create a smooth, flowing motion that can lead to more consistent shots.

There are several yoga breathing exercises or pranayama, that can be beneficial for golfers, including:

  1. Ujjayi Breathing: This is a deep, slow breath that is often referred to as ocean breathing because of the sound it makes. This type of breath can help calm the mind and reduce stress.
  2. Kapalabhati Breathing: This is a rapid, forceful breath that's often used to energize the body and clear the mind.
  3. Nadi Shodhana Breathing: Also known as alternate nostril breathing, this technique involves inhaling and exhaling through one nostril at a time. That can help balance the body and calm the mind.

Incorporating the aforementioned breathing exercises into your yoga practice can help you develop better breath control and focus, which can lead to better performances on the golf course.

Another important aspect of yoga for golfers is the emphasis on balance and stability. Many yoga poses require practitioners to balance on one foot or hold challenging positions for an extended periods. That can help improve balance and stability, which are essential for maintaining proper posture and generating power during the golf swing.

Additionally, yoga can help improve flexibility and range of motion, which can help golfers achieve a fuller, more fluid swing. By improving their flexibility and range of motion, golfers can also reduce their risk of injury.

To surmise, yoga for golfers can be a beneficial addition to any golfer's training routine. By incorporating golf yoga stretches, breath control techniques and balance and stability exercises, golfers can improve their flexibility, strength, mental focus and overall physical and mental health.

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Maybe it's the fear of sitting with my whirring thoughts, my mind oscillating between to-do lists and unread emails, or maybe it's a reluctance to carve out the time after a long day (scrolling? Hours to spare), but breathwork and I have never got along.

It's not to say I haven't tried, either. I've downloaded mindfulness apps and signed up to yin yoga, but I can't seem to make conscious breathing a regular fixture in my day-to-day.

Then I came across 4-7-8 breathing on TikTok. Countless videos (617 million, to be exact) proclaim this age-old breathing technique to be a wondrous – and wait for it, easy – way to ease a restless mind and help you switch off before bed. So I decided to give it a go, assigning myself the challenge to practice every night for a month. Here's what went down...

First: what is 4-7-8 breathwork?

You've probably already heard that breathwork – incorporating exercises and techniques that focus on the conscious control of breathing – is good for the soul. The benefits list from improved energy and sleep, and recent studies prove it to be a panacea for overall health, too. A bolstered immune system, balanced blood pressure, are just a few of the health benefits touted.

4-7-8 breathing is another type of breathwork. Though a trending term on TikTok, it hails from ancient times. 'The 4-7-8 breathing technique is an ancient yogic practice; a way of altering your breathing pattern to reset your nervous system, reduce anger, and calm down any feelings of panic and anxiety,' explains Angie Tiwari (or @tiwariyoga to her followers), a yoga, breath and meditation expert who runs a series of breathwork retreats every year.

The USP is that it works by controlling when and how you breathe to reduce symptoms of stress. 'We do so by setting this as the ratio for when we breathe in, hold the breath and breathe out which takes us away from our fight and flight response (the reaction to an event perceived as frightening or stressful) and into a rested, safer feeling state.'

Stress, as you know, is one of the main culprits for a poor night's kip– one of the reasons why TikTokers are hailing 4-7-8 breathing as the missing cog in the wheel for better sleep.

How to do the 4-7-8 breathing technique

The best thing about this breathing technique is that you don't need any equipment, fancy apps or an hour to spare every night. Below, find Tiwari's tips to trying the technique yourself:

  • Sit or lay down comfortably
  • Bring your awareness to the present moment by first closing your eyes, and being aware of your breath
  • Notice where you can feel it in your body
  • Then begin to alter the breath by inhaling for 4 counts, holding for 7 counts and exhaling through your mouth for 8 counts
  • Repeat 4 times and then bring the breath back to normal
  • Observe how you feel, and open your eyes.
  • Take some time afterwards to notice and perhaps journal your thoughts.

When’s the best time of day to try 4-7-8 breathing?

'You can do this at any point of the day where you feel you need a break, whether you're at your desk having a stressful day at work, or if you can't sleep this is perfect for before bed,' says Tiwari.

As a generally restless sleeper whose tried every trick in the book (acupressure mats; CBD oils, you name it), I decided I'd be best off practicing before bed; a time usually saved for more thumb scrolling and less mindfulness. I stuck to the same-ish time every day just before I went to sleep to try and reduce the common thread of restlessness and make the habit stick.

Who can benefit from this technique?

The good news is that everyone can benefit from trying this practice, says Tiwari. 'If you struggle to inhale, hold and exhale for this number of counts, you can alter this ratio to make it work for you and then build yourself up to 4-7-8,' she says. 'For example, you could try breathing in for the count of 2, holding for the count of 5, and breathing out for the count of 4.'

Results: what were the benefits of doing it every day for a month?

I'll be honest, I didn't think I'd stick to my self-assigned challenge, nor did I think I'd see actual results but I've noticed a huge improvement in the time it takes me to drift off to sleep.

Every night before bed, I spent 5 minutes breathing in, holding, and breathing out, allowing my busy mind a moment of calm. It really proved a salve after particularly busy days, where typically I'd watch the TV or turn to Instagram.

The benefits, says Tiwari, include feeling more present, reducing symptoms of stress, panic and anxiety, and, crucially: a more efficient way to breathe when compared to short, shallow, sharp breathing which we often do when feeling nervous or angry. It's true. When I'm stressed I can feel my breath fasten. If only for a few minutes, actively slowing down my breath really worked. 'When we breathe more efficiently and effectively, we take pressure off our cardiovascular system and therefore dramatically improve our overall health,' adds Tiwari.

Final thoughts

Simple and effective, I'd highly recommend this technique for anyone to whom the idea of breathwork sounds more like a chore than a stress reliever. Just 5 minutes before bed has actually improved my sleep so much and while it's not a silver bullet cure to a healthy lifestyle, such a simple technique can really yield results. I'll be sticking to it from here on out.

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Let’s face it. We can’t get enough entertainment content. Whether we're just waiting in line somewhere or plopping down on the sofa to chill out, we watch zombie shows, animated series, gritty dramas or whatever it is that gets us going. Streaming our favorite content is good, entertaining fun, no doubt — but according to the latest "While You Were Streaming" report from Truth Initiative(Opens in a new tab), a whopping 60 percent of the 15 most popular TV shows among 15 to 24-year-olds contained depictions of tobacco use in 2021, exposing 25 million young people to smoking and vaping imagery that puts them at risk for nicotine addiction. 

Research shows high exposure to on-screen tobacco imagery — and the glamorization of it — poses a serious public health threat to young people, making them three times more likely(Opens in a new tab) to start vaping nicotine in the first place. With these products being shown all around us, we should be very concerned given that the CDC reported(Opens in a new tab) over 2.5 million middle school and high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2022 with 46 percent of high school students who vape nicotine doing so almost daily. Images have an influence and as it turns out the content we consume to unwind and de-stress the day away may be having detrimental effects on mental health.

The link between nicotine and mental health

While the tobacco industry has advertised its products as stress relievers for decades, truth(Opens in a new tab) — the national youth smoking, vaping, and nicotine prevention and education campaign from Truth Initiative — launched a campaign(Opens in a new tab) last year to expose the connection between vaping nicotine and mental health. truth even created a fake vape company called Depression Stick!(Opens in a new tab) to make their point clearer. The most recent effort from truth, called Breath of Stress Air(Opens in a new tab), further debunks the myth that vaping is a stress reliever. The campaign's ASMR-styled animations(Opens in a new tab) bring attention to not only how the tobacco industry is making money off the backs of young people, but how it's messing with their heads. Research shows(Opens in a new tab) that nicotine can amplify feelings of anxiety and depression and increase stress levels. 

In case you need help connecting the dots between vaping and mental health, here's a quick rundown: Within minutes of using a nicotine vape, you might feel less anxious. That's because nicotine is stimulating your brain's release of dopamine(Opens in a new tab), a naturally occurring chemical messenger that's part of your body's rewards system — but the good feelings don't last long(Opens in a new tab). The dopamine wears off fast and the more you vape nicotine, the more you condition your body to crave the release of dopamine from nicotine. Skip vaping for a few hours and you might start spiraling. A quick vape hit might level you out, but skip another few hours and you're back to spiraling. Essentially, vaping nicotine can turn fresh air into stress air.

Tools to help you quit and stay quit

The human brain is still developing until around the age of 25, making young people more susceptible to nicotine addiction. The trick is to be aware of the facts, and truth has loads of resources, including their This is Quitting(Opens in a new tab) program, to give you tips, strategies, and inspiration to live vape-free. Having science-backed tools at your disposal for quitting is one way that you're more likely to see success. 

Set a date and find replacement activities 

Every journey begins with a single step and committing to quit is priority number one for many people. It's also a good idea to plan activities that you can turn to when urges hit, like going for a run, practicing a mindfulness technique, or taking your pup to the park. 

Seek out support 

You're not alone in quitting and you don't have to do it solo. Over 560,000 young people have enrolled in This is Quitting(Opens in a new tab), a free text-message quit-vaping program from truth. You can text "DITCHVAPE" to 88709 and get immediate help to quit. You’ll receive messages from peers and quitting experts, and you can also chat 1:1 through This is Quitting’s partnership with Crisis Text Line.  Stories from other "Quitters(Opens in a new tab)" are also easy to access for more inspiration. 

Trade 'stress air' for fresh air 

Breathing is a proven method to reduce anxiety and can help curb cravings. This is Quitting and Breathwrk(Opens in a new tab) have partnered to create breathing exercises to help young people reach their quitting goals. Users who used the Breathwrk breathing exercises were 30 percent more likely to succeed in completing the This is Quitting program, so it's worth checking out.

Celebrate your accomplishments

Your first vape-free day is as much of a victory as your first vape-free month. Be sure to mark your progress and celebrate it. Maybe take yourself out for gelato after one week, nab those sneakers you've been eyeballing after one month, and keep the self-love rolling. 

Quitting nicotine is no easy feat, especially when we see smoking and vaping depicted and even glamorized in top-watched shows, music videos, and even on the big screen. Groups like Truth Initiative are working with and calling for entertainment companies, producers, creatives, and celebrities to keep tobacco images off-screen. And also, there are plenty of tools — like those from truth — to help young people quit and stay nicotine-free, to ultimately help take those first steps, stay on track, and play a leading role in changing the picture, both on-screen and in person.

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This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author's own.

Chair Yoga makes yoga accessible to people who have various physical limitations, or those who find other types of yoga classes too challenging. Chair yoga can also serve as a great introduction to yoga for those who are first-time yogis! In addition to a good stretch, chair yoga improves muscle tone, supports better breathing habits, reduces stress, better sleep, and gives YOU a sense of well being. We end each week in svasana with a brief meditation.

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World Health Day is celebrated on April 7th each year, with a focus on promoting health and well-being for all. In recent years, smartwatches have emerged as powerful tools for monitoring health and fitness, and are increasingly being used in healthcare settings. In this listicle, we’ll explore the best five smartwatches that are transforming the healthcare industry.

  1. Apple Watch Series 6

The Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the most advanced smartwatches on the market, with a range of health features that make it a valuable tool for healthcare professionals. The watch has an ECG app that can detect irregular heart rhythms, a blood oxygen sensor that can monitor oxygen levels in the blood, and a heart rate monitor that can track changes in heart rate. Additionally, the Series 6 has features that can help users manage stress, including the Breathe app, which guides users through breathing exercises.

  1. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is another powerful smartwatch that is transforming the healthcare industry. The watch has a range of health features, including a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, and stress monitoring capabilities. Additionally, the Watch Active 2 has a range of fitness tracking features, such as GPS, workout tracking, and coaching.

  1. Fitbit Versa 3

The Fitbit Versa 3 is a versatile smartwatch that is ideal for individuals who want to track their health and fitness. The watch has a range of health features, including a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, and stress monitoring capabilities. Additionally, the Versa 3 has a variety of fitness tracking features, such as GPS, workout tracking, and coaching.


The smartwatch PLAFIT SLIM is “Made in India.” 1.28′′ (240 x 240 pixels) IPS LCD screen, IP67 water and dust resistance, different sports modes, heart rate and fitness tracker, sleep and SPO2 monitor, Bluetooth notification, and more are some of its features. This slimline smartwatch has a trendy band in the colours of Black and Blue, as the name would imply. It includes a 180mAh battery with a 7-day battery life and a 15-day standby time guarantee.

  1. Garmin Venu SQ

The Garmin Venu SQ is a budget-friendly smartwatch that is packed with health and fitness features. The watch has a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, and stress monitoring capabilities. Additionally, the Venu SQ has a range of fitness tracking features, such as GPS, workout tracking, and coaching. The watch also has a long battery life, making it ideal for users who want to track their health and fitness throughout the day.

  1. Amazfit GTS 2

The Amazfit GTS 2 is a sleek smartwatch that is perfect for users who want to track their health and fitness without breaking the bank. The watch has a range of health features, including a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, and stress monitoring capabilities. Additionally, the GTS 2 has a range of fitness tracking features, such as GPS, workout tracking, and coaching. The watch also has a long battery life, making it ideal for users who want to track their health and fitness throughout the day.

In conclusion, smartwatches are transforming the healthcare industry by providing real-time data, enabling remote patient monitoring and telemedicine, and helping individuals manage chronic conditions and achieve their fitness goals. The Apple Watch Series 6, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, Fitbit Versa 3, PLAYFIT SLIM, Garmin Venu SQ, and Amazfit GTS 2 are all powerful smartwatches that are leading the way in healthcare innovation. As smartwatches continue to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative features and applications that will revolutionize the way we approach healthcare.

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Our lifestyle choices directly influence our mental health. Follow these healthy daily practices to keep anxiety at bay.

Mental Health: These 8 Daily Practices Could Help Lower Your Anxiety

Meditating can help lower anxiety and might improve your overall mental health

Anxiety can be a debilitating condition that can make your life difficult. It is a natural response of your brain's safety mechanism when it perceives a potential danger. However, if it becomes excessive, it can lead to adverse effects such as mood swings, insomnia, and even depression. Thankfully, there are various daily practices that you can adopt to help alleviate anxiety. Keep reading as we discuss daily practices you can implement in your daily routine to help reduce anxiety.

8 Routine practices to lower anxiety:

1. Exercise

Regular exercise is one proven way to reduce anxiety. Exercise can help clear your mind, reduce stress levels, and help release endorphins, the body's feel-good chemicals. This can make you feel happier, more relaxed, and less anxious. You don't have to take on a rigorous workout routine to reap the benefits. Simple exercises such as walking, jogging, or yoga can help reduce anxiety levels over time.

2. Mindful breathing

Mindful breathing is a technique that helps you focus on your breath and clear your mind. It involves taking deep breaths in and out and focusing on the sensation of the breath as it passes through your body. Doing this for a few minutes a day can help you feel more relaxed and in control of your emotions, which can reduce anxiety levels.

3. Journaling

Journaling is a straightforward yet effective way to help reduce anxiety. Writing down your thoughts and emotions can help you process and organise them in a more productive way. It allows you to reflect on your fears and worries and helps identify patterns that trigger anxiety. This makes it easier to take action to reduce them.

4. Meditation

Meditation is a powerful technique that can help reduce anxiety levels. It involves sitting quietly and focusing your thoughts on the present moment. This can be particularly helpful when you feel overwhelmed or stressed. Regular meditation practice can help regulate your breathing and heart rate, which can help you feel more relaxed and less anxious.

5. Gratitude practice

Gratitude practice is a technique that involves focusing on the positive things in your life. It helps shift your focus from negative thoughts to positive ones, which can help reduce anxiety levels. You can do this by writing down things that you are thankful for each day or mentally listing them before bed.

6. Decluttering

Clutter can cause stress and anxiety without us even realising it. Decluttering can help create a more peaceful, organised space that can help reduce anxiety levels. Start small by decluttering one area at a time, such as a drawer or closet, and gradually work your way through your home.

7. Healthy eating

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential for optimal physical and mental health. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can provide the nutrients your body needs to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods can also help reduce anxiety levels.

8. Sleep hygiene

Sleep is crucial for regulating our emotions and keeping anxiety levels in check. Poor sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, making us more irritable, stressed, and anxious. Establishing a sleep routine, making your bedroom a peaceful sleep oasis, and limiting screen time before bed can help improve the quality of your sleep and reduce anxiety levels.

Anxiety can make life challenging, but these daily practices can help reduce anxiety levels over time. Implementing these practices into your routine can help improve your overall well-being and reduce the frequency and intensity of anxiety symptoms.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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We casually reference our nervous systems all the time—it’s highly likely that, at some point, you’ve used expressions like, “My nerves are shot,” or, “That’s getting on my nerves.” Even these little figures of speech can reflect how, in frustrating situations, you might be tempted to blame your nerves for acting up—or stress out about how to calm them down. 

But your sympathetic nervous system itself, which is the part of your overall autonomic nervous system that’s responsible for reacting to stress or perceived danger, isn’t actually always at fault when you feel on edge! In fact, your sympathetic nervous system shouldn’t kick into high gear over every little annoying thing.1 Really, it should only be sending warning signals to your body if a significant threat to your well-being is present—for instance, if you’re hiking and you encounter a bear, Thea Gallagher, PsyD, a psychologist at NYU Langone, tells SELF.

Sometimes, your body does misinterpret uncomfortable situations—like an intense work meeting, a confrontation with a friend, or even something that makes you feel put on the spot or self-conscious like public speaking—as actual physical threats. This can trigger the sympathetic nervous system and send your body into fight-or-flight mode. 

“Dysregulation of the nervous system happens when you’re in fight-or-flight response” more often than you should be, Susan Albers-Bowling, PsyD, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. This dysregulation can occur when your body doesn’t respond to stress appropriately, and it can take a major toll: Research suggests chronic stress can cause depression, anxiety, heart disease, and even cognitive impairment.2

When your sympathetic nervous system is active, it causes symptoms that range from a little irritating to more serious, per the Cleveland Clinic. They can include rapid heart rate and breathing; dilated pupils; trembling; increased blood pressure; and even changes to skin tone, as blood flow to the surface of the body is decreased (so that blood flow to muscles, legs, arms, and the brain can be increased). “It can be really hard to live our lives when our nervous system is [frequently] activated,” Dr. Gallagher says. “[People sometimes think] it’s all in your head. But it’s not in your head, it’s in your body.”

No matter what kicks your nervous system into overdrive—whether that’s going on a first date for the first time in years, scheduling important screenings like mammograms, or walking into a job interview—you can familiarize yourself with how to calm down and reassure your body that it’s not really under attack in certain intense situations—especially if you know what typically stresses you out. 

Below, experts explain techniques for how to calm your nerves that may improve your mental health.

1. Do four rounds of the 4-7-8 deep breathing technique.

Since fight-or-flight mode can cause quick, shallow breaths, try breathing exercises when you need to slow things down, Dr. Gallagher says.

A good technique is the 4-7-8 method, Dr. Albers-Bowling says. To try this, find a place where you can sit with your back straight and place the tip of your tongue against the tissue behind your upper front teeth (it should stay here throughout the exercise). Then, exhale completely (through the mouth) to make a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale through the nose for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts, then exhale completely through the mouth (making another whoosh sound) for eight counts. Do this at least four times to reset your breathing and help your body calm back down, Dr. Albers-Bowling recommends. (If you try the 4-7-8 technique and it isn’t for you, consider a different practice from our guide to popular deep breathing exercises.)

2. Put on your favorite song—and sing along.

The vagus nerve runs from your brain to your intestines and plays a pretty important role in regulating your body’s everyday functions: Among other things, it impacts your heart rate, digestion, speech, and mood.3

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These days, many people find it hard to unplug. Inflation, global warming and gun violence are on the rise. Bullies proliferate on social media. The 24/7 news cycle constantly blares distressing news, and people often face difficult personal or professional situations.

About half of Americans said they experienced stress within the past day, according to a Gallup Poll survey from last October, a finding that was consistent for most of 2022. Personal finances and current and political events were major sources of stress for one-third or more of adults, a survey from CNN in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation found in October.

Stress isn’t inherently bad, said Richard Scrivener, a personal trainer and product development manager at London’s Trainfitness, an education technology company. Stressing your muscles through weight training, for example, leads to beneficial changes. In addition, short-term stress in healthy people typically isn’t a hazard. “But if stress is continuous, especially in older or unhealthy individuals, the long-term effects of the response to stress may lead to significant health issues,” Scrivener said.

Stress occurs when you face a new, unpredictable or threatening situation, and you don’t know whether you can manage it successfully, said clinical psychologist Dr. Karmel Choi, an assistant professor in the Center for Precision Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

When you’re physically or emotionally stressed, your body snaps into fight-or-flight mode. Cortisol rushes through your system, signaling your body to release glucose. Glucose, in turn, provides energy to your muscles so you are better prepared to fight off a threat or run away. During this cortisol rush, your heart rate may rise, your breathing may become rapid, and you may feel dizzy or nauseated.

If you truly needed to fight or flee a predator, your cortisol levels would drop back down once the conflict was over. When you’re chronically stressed, however, those levels stay elevated.

Remaining in that heightened state is no good since high levels of cortisol can exacerbate health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic gastrointestinal problems, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Stress can also cause or contribute to anxiety, irritability, poor sleep, substance abuse, chronic distrust or worry, and more.

Luckily, there are many ways to combat stress. Keep a daily routine, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, and limit your time following the news or engaging in social media, recommends the World Health Organization. It also helps to stay connected with others and to employ calming practices such as meditation and deep breathing. One of the most successful tools, though, is physical activity.

Get stress relief by exercising outdoors. Spending time in nature can boost mental and physical health, according to research.

“Exercise is remarkably effective for managing psychological stress,” Choi said. “Exercise doesn’t remove what’s causing the stress, but it can boost mood, reduce tension and improve sleep — all of which are impacted by stress — and ultimately this can support people to approach their challenges in a more balanced way.”

Numerous studies back up the positive effect of exercise on stress. Physical activity, and especially exercise, significantly reduced the symptoms of anxiety in a study published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, for example. Similarly, a Frontiers in Psychology study of university students found that regularly engaging in low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercises for six weeks helped alleviate their depressive symptoms and perceived stress.

The reason exercise is so effective in squashing stress is fairly simple. Exercise causes your body to produce more endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that boost your mood. Movement also combats elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol while improving blood flow.

Aerobic workouts, such as running, dancing and boxing, produce lots of mood-boosting endorphins that relieve stress. But gentler exercise such as walking works, too.

Jessica Honig, a clinical social worker in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, said exercise empowers her clients because they realize that, through movement, they hold the key to reset and lessen their stress. “It’s also one of the best ways to pause — to break up or revive energy from a spiraling, unproductive mindset,” she said.

What types of exercise are best? While studies show aerobic exercise, such as swimming, running, dancing and boxing, may be the most efficient at getting mood-boosting endorphins rushing through your body, gentler forms of physical activity work, too. Think yoga, strength training and walking. In addition, sometimes less is more.

“What we’re seeing from the data,” Choi said, “is you actually need to move less than the recommended guidelines to see positive effects on mood.”

Since stress loads may change weekly or even daily, Scrivener said it can be helpful to alter your exercise based on your mood. Feeling a cheery 8 on a scale of 1 to 10? Then go for a run. Barely hitting a 3? Opt for something gentle. “This could be a 15-minute stretch followed by a light cycle for 15 minutes, or a 30-minute swim followed by a sauna session,” he said.

Since social engagement is a powerful protective factor for positive mental health, Choi encourages exercising with others. Studies also have shown being out in nature boosts your mood, so exercising outside with friends may provide even more benefits.

Combine exercise and social activity by scheduling regular workouts with a neighbor or joining a class.

Scientists continue to study the link between stress and physical activity. A small study published recently found that combining mindfulness and physical activity can improve sleep and help regulate emotions more than either alone, Choi said. She also warned that people need to be careful not to go overboard on exercise or rely on it exclusively for coping with challenges. Doing so can backfire and create more stress.

It’s also important to remember that humans are geared to release stress physically, no matter their age, said Honig, the social worker. “We see in children the permission to throw their body into pillows to release intense emotions,” she said. “We do not outgrow a need to physically release stress. We merely lose the outlets and social normalization of it.”

Melanie Radzicki McManus is a freelance writer who specializes in hiking, travel and fitness.

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