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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

This question & answer column is for people living with chronic health challenges and their family caregivers, who want to learn to increase the odds of improving their health by learning to live with mastery & wellbeing.

I invite you to post your questions in the comments box below. When I get a certain number of related questions, I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one.

I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are relevant published articles. Wednesday posts are interviews—mostly video. Friday posts consist of questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:  I’ve tried the mindful breathing you recommend but can’t seem to remember to do it. I have had enough yoga to know how to do it, but how do you remember to keep practicing throughout the day?

ANSWER:   Because I have had a mindfulness practice for a very long time, I am aware of numerous times throughout the day—probably more than 150 times each day—when I feel some type of physical or emotional discomfort; I use that to trigger the conscious diaphragmatic breathing.  This practice has resulted not only in improved health and wellbeing, but also in appreciation of greater self-efficacy and mastery.

The health benefits of slow, diaphragmatic breathing, about 12 breaths per minute, have been proven by psychophysiology researchers and known by yogis for centuries.

The big challenge is in being able to remember to breathe that way.

Here are four suggestions to help you remember:

  1. Set random alarms on you mobile device, to serve as reminders.
  2. Every time you change activities, even something as simple as sitting in a chair or getting up from the chair can be used as reminders.
  3. Post notes all over your house and work space with the word: Breathe.
  4. Do what I do: Every time you experience a troubling thought, or an uncomfortable emotion or sensation, use that to remind yourself to breathe.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges that are related to the relationship between states of mind and health?

Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box. I will post a reply to your comment, but your specific question may not appear in this column.

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