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Breathing through a Mask: No More Struggle

BY: Camila Loew

Until 2020, face masks were rarely seen on the streets in the western world. In the past, we knew about them, and those lucky enough to visit Asia were more accustomed to seeing people wearing them on a daily basis, but rarely did you see a Westerner wearing one, no matter how far east they had traveled. That past is long gone; this is a new era.

In 2020, we had to learn to wear masks, and we struggled to breathe in them. We experienced all kinds of reactions: from the uncomfortable bad breath to shortness of breath, to the many skin reactions this new-to-the-West facial covering brings with it, ranging from dryness to acne.

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Breathing is the one activity we do from the moment we are born until the day we die. Though instinctive, breathing can also be forgotten about, abused; haven't you ever had a headache and then realized you were holding your breath? Fortunately, breathing can also be trained and relearned.

For some -such as freedivers- breathing is much more than an unconscious act: it can be a powerful force. Traditional cultures dating back thousands of years viewed breathing as a medicine, or even a gateway to a new state of mind. Although you may not want to use your breath to reach higher planes of consciousness, like Buddhists, struggling to breathe can result in physical and mental discomfort and hardship.

Good news! You can learn to breathe better behind your mask. In countries like Spain, where kids have been in school in person since September 2020, they wear their masks all day long. In the beginning, many kids complained of headaches. But humans are adaptable beings, and now the mask has become second nature.

There are some herbal tricks to support our better breathing, which makes for happier breathers. In fact, you don't even have to go as far back as the ancient Chinese texts of 400 BCE: according to modern research, proper breathing can lead to improvements in many conditions, among them: asthma, anxiety, and ADHD. As James Nelson states in his recent bestselling and much-praised book Breath, "No matter how much we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how skinny or wise or young we are -none of it will matter unless we are breathing correctly. That's what these researchers discovered. The missing pillar in health is breath. It all starts there." (p. xix)

Recent research is finding that breathing is much more than a physical or biochemical act; it affects every organ and function in our system, from digestion to mood to heart rate and metabolism.

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Eucalyptus is a traditional herb associated with the breathing function, and one of the key ingredients in Cokare?s herbal-based Respiratory Wellness patch. Eucalyptus is known as an antibiotic and antibacterial herb with a long history of medicinal use. Native to Australia, the aborigines used it to treat colds, fevers, and coughs. Many of us also have a sensory memory associated with eucalyptus in the winter season. Do you remember when you had a cold or a stuffy nose, and mom or grandma made you breathe in steam from a pot of boiling water with eucalyptus steeped in it, with a towel draped over your head?

Our Respiratory Wellness patch is the next best thing to grandma's home remedies, and just as comforting, with the added benefit of being portable: just stick it easily inside your mask and you're good to go. The congestion from the added layer of fabric between you and your space will be replaced by the comfort of a familiar scent, with medicinal properties. Take a deep breath. Ahhhhh. Doesn't it feel great?

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